A program designed to relocate people living near the Hassayampa River has received final approval. The Maricopa County Flood Control District Board unanimously approved the sale of six flood-prone properties to the Town of Wickenburg. These were properties that the Flood Control District (FCD) previously purchased from homeowners so they could move to safer locations.
“I know this area,” said Supervisor Clint Hickman, District 4. “It’s a spot where a big storm can be a real source of anxiety because you never know how high the wash will rise and if that water will make it to your house.”
In August of 2014 and again in July of 2015, Wickenburg dealt with heavy rains that flooded and damaged homes. One of the hardest hit spots was the Vista Del Pueblo neighborhood near Powder House Wash.
Shortly after the 100-year flood event of July 2015, FCD and the Town of Wickenburg entered into an agreement. Through its “Flood-Prone Property Assistance Program,” FCD bought six of the most vulnerable properties near Powder House Wash and helped relocate homeowners. The buyouts were voluntary.
“This wasn’t a problem that required an expensive, structural solution,” said FCD Chief Engineer Bill Wiley. “The Flood-Prone Property Assistance Program is a tool that allows us to get people out of homes that flood frequently and those in which the flooding happens so quickly there is a legitimate risk to life.”
As part of the original agreement, FCD demolished all structures on the property. On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Flood Control District Board approved the sale of those six properties back to Wickenburg for the sum of $10.
“We are grateful for our partnership with the Maricopa County Flood Control District and others to finalize this important project,” said Aaron White, spokesperson for the Town of Wickenburg. “We look forward to making this area an attractive green space for area residents and visitors alike.”
Supervisor Hickman believes this is a smart, cost-effective solution that benefits the entire community. “People shouldn’t have to fear the rain. So when we see a situation like the one in Wickenburg, we act,” said Hickman. “We’re getting people out of harm’s way, getting them to a safer place, and then making sure the land can be put to more appropriate use.”