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August 20, 2014

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East valley residents get glimpse of much-needed flood-control project

Image

Sam Morris

Mark Moran shoots video of the Las Vegas Wash after rain storms hit the valley Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Flooding in east Las Vegas

A Knudson Middle School student hangs onto a tree after falling down and being dragged by  floodwater near Eastern and Sahara avenues, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Search for Missing Landscaper

Metro Search and Rescue officers search for a missing golf course worker along the Flamingo Wash near Sloan Lane Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. The worker was working in the wash and is missing after Tuesday's rainstorm and flooding. Launch slideshow »

Map of Desert Rose Golf Course

Desert Rose Golf Course

5483 Club House Drive, Las Vegas

More than 100 neighborhood residents packed the cafeteria at a northeast valley elementary school Wednesday night to hear plans for a $35 million flood control project they wish had been in place five months ago.

The area near Nellis Boulevard and Sahara Avenue was especially hard hit during rainstorms in August and September, which caused flooding that severely damaged many homes. At the nearby Desert Rose Golf Course, a landscaper was washed away and killed by flood waters during a Sept. 11 storm.

The Las Vegas and Flamingo washes, which carry storm water run-off from throughout the valley to Lake Mead, converge in the area, making it especially flood prone. In 2011, 1,700 homes in the area were determined to be in a flood hazard zone, requiring homeowners to purchase flood insurance.

To improve the flood control systems in the area and protect it against a 100-year flood, the Clark County Regional Flood Control District sped up plans for a $35 million project in June to upgrade the Las Vegas Wash from Sloan Channel to Cedar Avenue.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of three planned meetings to introduce neighbors in the area to the project and to solicit feedback on its design, including trouble spots prone to flooding that need addressing.

While local officials, including Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani and water district General Manager Gale Fraser, were eager to tout the expedited design and construction process, many residents were more interested in discussing why their homes were exposed to the unusually high flood waters last year.

Multiple residents said they’ve noticed a higher amount of water flowing through the channel near their homes ever since upstream portions of the wash were encased in concrete.

“There’s definitely a lot more water going through the wash and the golf course than before,” said Karen Brokaw, who’s lived on the golf course for 11 years and hadn’t seen it flood until last year. “We were the luckiest on our street, we’re the highest. The water just started to come in our doors and damaged the woodwork. Our garage flooded too.”

Fraser said the concrete encasement did not contribute to flooding in the area around Desert Rose Golf Course. Instead, it was a lack of capacity, which the new project will address through improvements to the channels, regarding the golf course where much of the water drains through and reconstructing nearby bridges to improve water flow.

Specific measures to strengthen the flood control system will be developed in the coming months and shared with residents at the next public meeting in June, Fraser said.

The project is targeted for completion in 2015 and when done, it should lead to the flood zone designation being lifted along with the requirement that homeowners in the area buy flood insurance.

Giunchigliani said the flooding last year emphasized the need for flood control improvements in the neighborhood and that the new project should help prevent loss of life and damage to property in the future.

“Folks may think three years is a long time, but that’s fast for something like this,” she said.

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