Intense rain leads to several swift-water rescues

2013-07-21T00:00:00Z 2013-07-21T14:43:37Z Intense rain leads to several swift-water rescuesKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It was a wet and wild Saturday afternoon in the Old Pueblo with monsoon rains, falling power poles and swift-water rescues.

Much of Tucson was drenched, with some midtown neighborhoods receiving nearly an inch of rain in just a few hours, according to Pima County Regional Flood Control District gauges. It was a neighborhood southeast of West Bopp and South Kinney roads on the west side, however, that received the most rain: nearly 2 inches in less than three hours.

The storms caused downed power lines and several people were rescued from fast-rising waters as washes filled, but the speed of the storm limited its impact, said John Brost, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Three children playing in a dry riverbed escaped after they found themselves trapped as monsoon runoff swept through the northwest side.

The children, ages 8, 10 and 12, were playing in the Rillito River just west of La Cañada Road about 6:30 p.m. when they saw what Northwest Fire District spokesman Capt. Adam Goldberg described as "a wall of water" coming toward them.

The children scrambled to a high spot in the riverbed and became trapped on a sandbar in the center. The water around them was full of debris, and the children could not get to the riverbank.

It took nearly half an hour from the time fire crews arrived on the scene to suit up and retrieve the children.

Tucson Fire Department crews were called out to three swift-water rescues in less than an hour Saturday beginning just before 3:30 p.m. when a man and his Mazda vehicle were trapped in a wash near East Creek Street and South Bonanza Avenue just south of East Golf Links Road.

The driver made it safely ashore as the car washed away down the creek, Capt. Barrett Baker, spokesman for the Tucson Fire Department, said in a news release.

About 15 minutes later, crews came to the aid of a 40-year-old woman who had been under a bridge at the Rose Hill Wash near the 600 block of North Mann Avenue east of St. Joseph's Hospital when she was swept away.

While firefighters and police were contending with water rescues, Tucson Electric Power crews were trying to restore service to more than 1,500 commercial and residential customers.

Most had their service restored within a few hours, but more than 200 customers on the far east side could be without power for up to 24 hours, estimated Jennifer Fitzenberger, spokeswoman for Tucson Electric Power.

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