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Heavy flooding forces Ariz. rescues, road closure

Source : AP
Last Updated: Wed, Aug 01, 2012 23:16 hrs

Flood waters in the Phoenix area were receding Wednesday, a day after firefighters rescued a baby and several other people who were trapped in their vehicles.

A dust and monsoon storm late Tuesday carried pea-sized hail and forced the closure of a well-traveled highway, flooded homes, knocked out power to area residents and collapsed a backyard fence. Firefighters rescued nine people from four vehicles on a highway west of Interstate 17 near Phoenix.

Alexis Zuniga, who was among those rescued, said the flooding was immediate, building up at least a foot every five minutes.

"We had to hold on to the brake the entire time, and then we just waited for help," Zuniga told Phoenix television station KPNX (http://bit.ly/iHUSi ).

Drivers on that part of State Route 74 were rerouted Wednesday during morning rush-hour traffic onto an alternate east-west route that is used for trips to and from Las Vegas. The five-mile stretch of highway reopened Wednesday afternoon when storm runoff subsided.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Scott McDonald said it took an hour to rescue the people from their vehicles Tuesday amid the fast-moving water that rose to 4 feet at one point, the Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/NlKwNl ) reported.

Nearby, homes in Anthem quickly filled with water. Residents were cleaning up Wednesday from the storm that turned their streets into a muddy river, destroyed one home and felled trees.

"Within 2 seconds, it was probably knee height," Antonio Vides told Phoenix television station KPHO (http://bit.ly/T3mPOR ). "I was screaming at my parents to get out. I was screaming at everyone to get out."

Vides' neighbor was standing by a fence when it collapsed and the water knocked her over, sending her swimming.

A slight chance of thunderstorms is forecast for the Phoenix area Friday and through the weekend. The National Weather Service says any storms that develop could produce lightning, gusty winds and heavy rainfall.




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