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PHOENIX -- Monsoon Awareness week begins this week and national and state agencies are encouraging Arizona residents to gear up for severe weather.

The monsoon officially kicks off Saturday and ends Sept. 30. Thunderstorms, high winds, heavy rains, dust storms are not expected to start until early July.That leaves plenty of time to put together enough food and water to carry a household through 72 hours if the power goes out.

"With strong winds it is not uncommon for power to get knocked out for hours at a time or even days at a time," said Dan Leins with the National Weather Service. "So be prepared on the outside chance that something like that happens. It is a possibility."

Leins said emergency supplies should include a first-aid kit, radio, batteries, flashlight, among other items.

Pack a smaller 'go kit' with important documents, cash and phone charger in case of evacuation. Write communication and evacuation plans that identify a family meeting place, account for special needs and pets and include an out-of-town contact. Practice the plan.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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