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AJ Public Works to Weather the Storm

Department dedicated to safety and quick flood control

Local residents love the annual monsoon season: the rain, the wind and the dramatic electrical displays are a welcome relief from triple digit temperatures day and night.

But, there is also a local delegation who have less affection for the season.

The city of Apache Junction Public Works department is on-call 24-7 with dedicated workers, an armada of graders, light and heavy sweepers and backhoes.

A storm like the one on July 24 sent the Public Works team on a 12-hour shift to put up barricades at flooded streets and clear the way for first responders.

Shane Kiesow is the manager at the city department and says, “A routine has evolved over the 13 years I’ve been here.” Priorities are in place: First barricade flooded streets, then clear and clean the arterial streets to keep traffic rolling safely. This may involve removing fallen trees or clearing plugged drainage channels and structures.

Also routine are the city’s problem areas: populated neighborhoods along Weekes Wash, that always seem to need attention.

“On the east side, Tepee and Cortez streets get water runoff from Weekes, which also hits Scenic and Junction on its way toward Tomahawk,” Kiesow said. The west side of town, in the area of 16th Ave. and Ironwood, also gets inundated by water runoff from Palm Wash. The one water rescue from the July 24 storm occurred in that area.

“It has been about 10 days since that storm, and we are almost done with the side streets that need attention, but a lot of street sweeping and shoulder repair yet remain,” Kiesow said. He said that the Public Works flood response team includes about four crews: two 2-person barricade crews; an equipment resource crew and an incident commander to coordinate Public Works response operations and monitor known critical areas. Public Works also enlists help from other city departments along with Department of Correction detainees, about 4 or 5 a day, for both flood preparation work and recovery cleanup efforts following a storm.

Apache Junction can expect more storms in the coming weeks. As this article is being written, thunderheads are forming all around Apache Junction and residents are looking forward to another show from Mother Nature. The Public Works team is also watching the sky and maybe hoping for a different outcome.

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