Record Arizona swamp cars, lead to 2 deaths

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Record Arizona swamp cars, lead to 2 deaths
Melanie Vallet, left, and Madison Bush rescue a mule caught in floodwater Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Overton, Nev. The flood water came from heavy rain Monday that also washed out parts of Interstate 15. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People work to clear water and mud from the driveway of a home Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Overton, Nev. The floodwater came from heavy rain Monday that also washed out parts of Interstate 15. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Jalea Blasingame falls into floodwater Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Overton, Nev. The flood water came from heavy rain Monday that also washed out parts of Interstate 15. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 photo provided by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, runoff water rushes through the Quad casino parking garage on the Las Vegas Strip and into a flood control channel in Las Vegas. Officials from the Clark County Regional Flood Control District say the garage is a frequent pass-through for floodwaters, and they give the casino advance warning to evacuate the garage when heavy rains hit the Las Vegas area. (AP Photo/Clark County Regional Flood Control District, Joe Damiani)
Corky Rasco rescues a steer caught in floodwater Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Overton, Nev. The flood water came from heavy rain Monday that also washed out parts of Interstate 15. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Construction crews work on a flood damaged section of Interstate 15 Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, near Moapa, Nev. Flood damage caused the closure of the interstate which is the main road between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A bulldozer works on a flood damaged section of Interstate 15, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, near Moapa, Nev. Flood damage caused the closure of the interstate which is the main road between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A minivan is seen in floodwaters beneath Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood emergency for the area. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A car is partially buried in mud on Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Receding flood water surrounds a home in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Flooding throughout the area damaged homes and roads. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Josh Bryant sits along Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A truck crosses floodwaters on a road in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Flooding throughout the area damaged homes and roads. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People stand on a road near flood water in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Flooding throughout the area damaged homes and roads. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Horses walk through flood water behind a home in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Flooding throughout the area damaged homes and roads. (AP Photo/John Locher)
People try to free a car stuck in mud from flooding on Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman opens a door to a car stuck in mud in flooding on Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Water flows down the middle of Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Water flows down the middle of Interstate 15 in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The road is closed in both directions because of the flood damage. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Floodwaters surround a structure as cars on Interstate 15 sit at a standstill Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Moapa, Nev. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the area. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A man stands by a truck after walking through floodwaters in Moapa, Nev. Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood emergency for the area. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Horses walk through flood water behind a home in Moapa, Nev., Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Flooding throughout the area damaged homes and roads. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after monsoon rains flooded the freeway in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
Vehicles remain along a section of westbound Interstate 10 following heavy rains and flooding that left motorists stranded during their morning commute on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Monday's record breaking rainfall flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and local streets forcing closures with some areas reporting up to five inches of rain. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
A woman rides her bike through a flooded pathway on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
A man watches floodwaters surge under an overpass Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
A man photographs a street closed because of flooding on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Floodwaters surge Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Floodwaters surge Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Floodwaters surge Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
A dismayed Nick Kriaris wades through his flooded home after heavy rains caused severe flash flooding Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. His home has flooded three times in the past month, and he had just fixing the damage in his home from the previous two monsoon storm floodings when the storm hit. The Monday morning storm set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Floodwaters surge Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Arizona Monday, breaking the previous record for rainfall in a single day in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after monsoon rains flooded the freeway in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after monsoon rains flooded the freeway in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
Traffic is stopped in the eastbound lanes of I-10 and cars are underwater at 43rd Ave. and I-10 in the westbound lanes in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 after record-setting rainfall caused massive flooding throughout the Valley. More than 20 cars were stranded when fast rising water flooded the underpass. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle)
Traffic is stopped in the eastbound lanes of I-10 and cars are underwater at 43rd Ave. and I-10 in the westbound lanes in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 after record-setting rainfall caused massive flooding throughout the Valley. More than 20 cars were stranded when fast rising water flooded the underpass. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle)
A pick-up truck driver tries to navigate a severely flooded street as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A truck creates a wake as its driver tries to navigate a severely flooded street as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A student tries to walk along a flooded sidewalk to a non-flooded street so he can be picked up by his parents after schools were closed as heavy rains pour down causing severe flooding Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Flood waters cross a flooded street and wash away a sidewalk as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Drivers attempt to navigate their vehicles through severely flooded streets as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A driver tries to navigate a severely flooded street as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A man hooks up a tow line to his stalled truck in a flooded street Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. Heavy rains in the Las Vegas valley caused flooding on city streets. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Construction crews work on a flood damaged section of Interstate 15 Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, near Moapa, Nev. Flood damage caused the closure of the interstate which is the main road between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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By PAUL DAVENPORT and BOB CHRISTIE
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Joseph Friend was driving his blue Chevrolet S-10 pickup onto Interstate 10 when a huge wave of floodwater kicked up by a big rig truck pushed his truck off the highway.

The 47-year-old Phoenix man was among more than two dozen motorists whose vehicles were swamped and left submerged in up to 4 feet of water following record-breaking rainfall that hit Phoenix on Monday.

The floodwaters from the storms are blamed for at least two deaths in southern Arizona.

A woman died after her car was swept away and became trapped against a bridge in Tucson, and a 76-year-old woman drowned when her husband tried to drive across a flooded wash in Pinal County.

The rain was caused by the remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushing into the desert Southwest. Phoenix recorded record rainfall for a single day, turning freeways into small lakes and sending rescuers scrambling to get drivers out of inundated cars.

Parts of Nevada also saw downpours, and 190 people from an Indian reservation about 50 miles northeast of Last Vegas was evacuated after more than 4 inches of rain fell on the rural, sparsely populated community of Moapa, pushing the Virgin River to near-flood stage. Some homes were damaged.

Closures on Interstate 15, the main route from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, backed up drivers, damaged the roadway and washed away some vehicles, though no serious injuries have been reported.

Strong thunderstorms also wreaked havoc in Southern California's deserts. Rescue crews answered more than 40 flood-related calls about stranded cars during the Monday morning commute in the La Quinta and Indian Wells areas near Palm Springs, Riverside County fire spokeswoman Jody Hagemann said. Numerous cars got stuck in high water in Coachella Valley, said Mike Radford, spokesman for the Indio CHP office.

In suburban Phoenix, crews in Mesa were trying to keep floodwaters away from around 125 homes after retention basins and channels along the U.S. 60 freeway reached or exceeded capacity, allowing water to flow into a handful of neighborhoods.

Crews worked into the night to disconnect power to submerged transformers, provide sandbags to threatened homes, and pump water from affected areas. A temporary shelter was being set up at a recreation center.

Norbert's effects will likely hang around Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Charlotte Dewey said. But she warned any additional precipitation could quickly cause new flooding because the ground is already saturated.

Sections of the two main north-south and east-west freeways through Phoenix - Interstates 10 and 17 - were closed during the Monday morning commute, snarling traffic all across the metro area.

Cars and SUVs sat in water up to their hoods on I-10, while dozens of motorists parked on its wide, banked borders to stay clear of the water.

Friend was headed to his job at a vending machine manufacturing company at about 4:15 a.m. when his truck was overcome.

With water filling his vehicle, he climbed out and walked up the freeway embankment to wait it out. His pickup truck was barely visible at the peak of the flooding. Other drivers were stranded in the median.

By late morning, the water on I-10 had receded and bright sunshine emerged, allowing trucks to take away several dozen vehicles that had been swamped.

The National Weather Service recorded 3.29 inches of rain at the Phoenix airport, by far the most precipitation the city has ever received in one day. The previous record was 2.91 inches in 1939.

Other Phoenix metro areas received staggering amounts of rain for the desert region. Chandler recorded 5.63 inches, while Mesa had 4.41 inches.

Monsoon storms from the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico can bring heavy rain and wind to Phoenix in the summer months. The last six years have produced a highly erratic pattern as Phoenix has gone from huge rainfall one summer to scant precipitation the next, said meteorologist Charlotte Dewey.

In Tucson, nearly 2 inches of rain in a short period turned normally dry washes into raging torrents. A woman was found dead after her car was swept about two blocks by water 10 to 15 feet deep then wedged and submerged against a bridge, Tucson Fire Department spokesman Barrett Baker said.

"This is the worst thing in the world for us," Baker said. "We talk all summer really about the dangers of washes."

In Tempe, part of a grocery store roof collapsed because of the rain, but none of the people inside was injured, police Lt. Mike Pooley said.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency because of the flooding and told non-essential state workers to stay home.

Scattered electricity outages were reported, with over 10,000 customers losing power.


Raw: Flooding Snarls Traffic in Nevada

Parts of Nevada also saw downpours, and 190 people from an Indian reservation about 50 miles northeast of Last Vegas was evacuated after more than 4 inches of rain fell on the rural, sparsely populated community of Moapa, pushing the Virgin River to near-flood stage.

Some homes have been damaged in flooding, which was expected to continue posing a threat overnight. It's unclear how many homes were damaged or remained at risk.

Closures on Interstate 15, the main route from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, backed up drivers, damaged the roadway and washed away some vehicles, though no serious injuries have been reported.

Strong thunderstorms also wreaked havoc in Southern California's deserts. Rescue crews answered more than 40 flood-related calls about stranded cars during the Monday morning commute in the La Quinta and Indian Wells areas near Palm Springs, Riverside County fire spokeswoman Jody Hagemann said. Numerous cars got stuck in high water on roads north and south of Interstate 10 in Coachella Valley, said Mike Radford, public information officer for the Indio CHP office.

Also in suburban Phoenix, crews in Mesa were trying to keep floodwaters away from around 125 homes after retention basins and channels along the U.S. 60 freeway reached or exceeded capacity, allowing water to flow into a handful of neighborhoods.

Crews worked into the night to disconnect power to submerged transformers, provide sandbags to threatened homes, and pump water from affected areas. A temporary shelter was being set up at a recreation center. City officials said any evacuations would be voluntary, however.

Norbert's effects will likely hang around through Tuesday evening, National Weather Service meteorologist Charlotte Dewey said.

"It looks like things could still be active tomorrow, but I don't think we're going to see the rainfall amounts we saw today," she said Monday evening. "I think by tomorrow evening, the threat of heavy rainfall will be gone."

But she warned that with so much rain falling across the region, any additional precipitation could quickly cause new flooding because the ground is already saturated.

Sections of the two main north-south and east-west freeways through Phoenix - Interstates 10 and 17 - were closed during the Monday morning commute, snarling traffic all across the metro area.

Cars and SUVs sat in water up to their hoods on the freeway, while dozens of motorists parked on its wide, banked borders to stay clear of the water. A state Department of Public Safety officer used the roof of his SUV to carry three stranded motorists from a flooded area of I-10.

Friend was headed to his job at a vending machine manufacturing company at about 4:15 a.m. when his truck was overcome.

With water filling his vehicle, he climbed out and walked up the freeway embankment to wait it out. His pickup truck was barely visible at the peak of the flooding.

Other drivers were stranded in the median. After the highway was shut down, a woman on top of her car in the median called for help, so Friend waded out and led her to safety.

"She was asking for help and nobody went out there, so I went out there and helped her out," Friend said. "I was already soaked anyway."

By late morning, the water on I-10 had receded and bright sunshine emerged, allowing trucks to take away several dozen vehicles that had been swamped and stranded.

The National Weather Service recorded 3.29 inches of rain at the Phoenix airport, by far the most precipitation the city has ever received in one day. The previous record for one-day rainfall was 2.91 inches in 1939.

Other Phoenix metro areas received staggering amounts of rain for the desert region. Chandler recorded 5.63 inches, while Mesa had 4.41 inches.

Phoenix sometimes receives heavy rain and wind during the summer months, the result of monsoon storms coming north from the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The last six years have produced a highly erratic pattern as Phoenix has gone from huge rainfall one summer to scant precipitation the next, said meteorologist Charlotte Dewey.

For example, Phoenix received 5.7 inches of rain during the summer storm season in 2008, followed by less than an inch the next summer. The 2011 summer was marked by little rain and towering dust clouds that enveloped the city, while this season has produced record rain. Monday's single-day rainfall totals eclipsed the average total precipitation for the entire summer.

The freeways became submerged Monday after pumping stations could not keep up with the downpour, the Department of Transportation said. Sections of Interstates 10 and 17 were closed most of the day.

In Tucson, nearly 2 inches of rain in a short period turned normally dry washes into raging torrents. The woman was found dead after her car was swept about two blocks by water 10 to 15 feet deep then wedged and submerged against a bridge, Tucson Fire Department spokesman Barrett Baker said.

"This is the worst thing in the world for us," Baker said. "We talk all summer really about the dangers of washes."

Rescuers with the Northwest Fire District, a Pima County department, needed 30 minutes to reach a man in a car and pull him from the passenger side, which was shielded against the fastest-flowing water.

The rescue was "as close as it gets before we lose somebody," spokesman Adam Goldberg said.

In Tempe, part of a grocery store roof collapsed because of the rain, but none of the people inside was injured, police Lt. Mike Pooley said.

Numerous street closures were reported in cities across the area.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency because of the flooding and told non-essential state workers to stay home.

Scattered electricity outages were reported, with over 10,000 customers losing power.

The flooding came during an especially wet season in Arizona that included a storm three weeks ago that dumped more rain on some areas than has been received all last summer. That storm also prompted several dramatic rescues as floodwaters submerged cars.

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