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Phoenix Shares Preparations For Upcoming Monsoon Season

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: This Saturday marks the start of our monsoon season. The three-month period brings a change in the weather pattern and that often brings extreme heat, dust storms, lightning and flooding. KJZZ's Christina Estes joins me now to discuss how Phoenix is prepared. Now Christina people often think about firefighters responding to severe weather calls, but the monsoon season requires several city departments to have plans, right? 

CHRISTINA ESTES: Yes, and not just response plans. It's about prevention, too.

GOLDSTEIN: OK, what do you mean by that?

ESTES: Well take the Street Transportation Department, this time of year they're more focused on clearing out washes and drainage structures. The department's Director Kini Knudson recently told the City Council about their preventive maintenance, it includes; trimming vegetation, clearing catch basins and storm drains and cleaning streets.

KINI KNUDSON: We sweep our city streets on a routine basis that ensure debris, rocks and dirt do not create issues for how water flows through and over our network of streets.

ESTES: During a storm the Street Transportation Department's first response usually involves clearing the roads of downed trees and other debris for emergency crews and residents to travel. Assistant Fire Chief Shelly Jamison says during a storm call volume can increase 2 1/2 times.

SHELLY JAMISON: We have additional emergency response units that are located in specific regions throughout the city. These are designed to be relocated if necessary when major incidents deplete our resources.

ESTES: The Parks Department gets involved too. Parks often serve as headquarters for sand where residents can bring bags to fill. Here's Lisa Jones, she oversees emergency management.

LISA JONES: When severe weather is anticipated we strategically disperse roll-off containers with sand to determine locations across the city. Once containers are in place we notify the Communications Office to update the website and social media accounts.

GOLDSTEIN: Christina the Communications Office works closely with media outlets during storms so we can share information about road closures and sandbag locations and other things. Are there certain messages they're really zeroing in on as the season gets underway?

ESTES: Well their goal is to not only share information but encourage people to be proactive. For example Communications Director Julie Watters promotes " go kits" for people and pets.

JULIE WATTERS: This is a portable pack that contains items in it so you can be self-sufficient for up to three days. Things like; water, food, cash, first-aid supplies, phone chargers, batteries different things like that. This includes our four-legged family members. Make sure you are prepared to protect your animals before during and after a monsoon.

ESTES: The city's website and social media platforms are pushing monsoon preparedness. And if you live or work in Phoenix and you get a water and trash bill in the mail, your June bill should include a page with important phone numbers and information.

GOLDSTEIN: And you might want to keep that sheet handy since the monsoon season lasts all the way through September 30th.

ESTES: Yes, and we will have links on our website KJZZ.org.

GOLDSTEIN: KJZZ's Christina Estes, thank you, as always.

ESTES: You're welcome.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.