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Heavy rains cause havoc in southern Arizona

Storms dumped up to 4 inches of rain Tuesday across southern Arizona, flooding washes and waterways.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Storms dumped up to 4 inches of rain Tuesday across southern Arizona, flooding washes and waterways and forcing evacuations of some 46 people in the Tucson area, including a mother and two children rescued by a helicopter.

Several flights were delayed and one was canceled from Tucson International Airport, and the rains forced closure of five roads in Tucson and more than two dozen in Pima County.

The severity of the storm, on the heels of another Aug. 14, caused Pima County Supervisors’ chairwoman Sharon Bronson to declare a state of emergency. Doing so enables the county to seek aid from the state for infrastructure losses, already near $500,000 from the earlier storm.

Authorities used a Blackhawk helicopter to reach one woman and her children stranded by floodwaters on the porch of a mobile home southwest of Tucson’s city limits, Rural Metro spokesman Rick Flores said.

The helicopter was able to hover just above ground, where technicians climbed out to help put the woman and her children aboard the aircraft, he said. The chopper also was used to look for residents stranded on porches or rooftops.

Rain in Tucson swept a man from his pickup into the Santa Cruz River after he drove into a flooded area and his truck was carried to a culvert grate. Firefighters formed a human chain to reach him on a sandbar.

The Franco Wash southwest of Tucson overflowed its banks and began flooding a number of mobile home parks in the area during early morning hours.

By about 7 a.m. “we started receiving multiple 911 calls from people either trapped in their vehicles or trapped in their homes by floodwaters that were rising and swift-moving,” Flores said.

The force of the water — flowing between 3 and 5 feet deep and moving at between 10 and 20 mph — knocked about seven mobile homes of their foundations, and the homes began to float downstream, he said.

By mid-afternoon, close to 40 mobile homes had been evacuated.