Monsoon Rain Hits AZ; Two Deaths Reported

PHOENIX (AP) — Monsoon rain drenched south-central Arizona, closing parts of a Phoenix freeway and causing flooding in the rural community of Gila Bend, where two people have died.

Gila Bend’s mayor on Saturday declared a state of emergency for the town of 2,000 because of flooding and said a temporary shelter was set up in a school gymnasium.

Mayor Chris Riggs and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said two people were killed in flooding in the Gila Bend area.

Riggs said in a Facebook video that a man and a woman died in the flooding.

“Hopefully we don’t find any more in our search,” Riggs said. “We are a resilient community, and we are a strong community.”

One of the outlets, azfamily.com, reported that one victim was swept down a flood wash and that the second person was in a vehicle swept away.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Monica Bretado earlier said “several rescues and ongoing evacuations” were conducted.

Gila Bend had nearly 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) of rain in 24 hours, but a nearby site along a state highway that was closed because of flooding measured 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) in the same period, according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District’s website.

Maricopa County responded to Gila Bend’s request for help by declaring a local emergency that gives the town access to emergency funds and by sending crews and equipment to clear roads and help recovery efforts, a a county statement said.

Gila Bend is 51 miles (82 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix, where sections of Interstate 17 reopened Saturday after being closed Friday night because of standing water. The Phoenix Fire Department reported making multiple rescues of people stranded in cars on flooded streets.

Winds in the metro area toppled trees and utility poles.

A flash flood warning that covered most of southern Arizona expired Saturday morning. But a flash flood watch remained in effect through Sunday afternoon.

By late afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued new flash flood warnings for limited parts of Cochise, Pima and Pinal counties getting heavy rain that forecasters said could produce rapid runoff into normally dry washes and in areas with poor drainage.

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