USA Disasters – No One Can Rest In Peace

Two pictures of disasters from last week remind all of us that we are closer to disaster than we might like to think

Casket floating in the LA floods
“A casket is seen floating in floodwaters in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, after heavy rains. Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

CA Fires Destroying Homes and Lives
“Flames whipped by strong winds burn though a hillside during the Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, Californi – Patrick Fallon / Reutersa”


Taming the desert rain!

After our 2007 relocation from the east coast to the Phoenix Valley, we were surprised to learn that we were in a flood plain! This was soon apparent within a few months when a monsoon storm hit, and a large portion of our “top soil” (aka “sand”) ended up in the adjacent property. We decided to construct a “wadi” (a gully or streambed in northern Africa and southwest Asia that remains dry except during the rainy season) and ordered approximately six tons of “rip rap” (fist sized stone) from a local rock yard. Landscape cloth and pins were used as a weed barrier, and then each rock was carefully laid over a period of several weeks. The wadi is approximately 70 feet by 10 feet (average) and runs diagonally across the southeast corner of our 1.5 acre parcel. It has dramatically decreased soil (sand!) loss. A year after installation, we opted to construct a wall at the wadi’s headwaters comprised of eight large boulders that have served to further diminish the rapid flow of monsoon rains. Occasionally, debris must be removed from the rocks, and it is interesting to speculate on the origin of plastic wrappers and plush pet toys that meander downstream with the rains!

Building a Wadi in the Sonoran Desert
This is the corner that was washed out after the first heavy rain

Building a Wadi in the Sonoran Desert

We started constructing the wadi by the base of the trees where the water first enters our property.

Building a Wadi in the Sonoran Desert
On the right-hand side are several boulders we purchased to add interest and further slow the flow of water.

Building a Wadi in the Sonoran Desert
The project moved along as we developed the protocol for laying the weed barrier, sandy gravel and the rocks.
Building a Wadi in the Sonoran Desert
Here is an approximately east-west view near completion of the project.