Heavy rainfall is a yearly occurrence during monsoon season in Arizona but this year it seems to be particularly torrential and destructive.
Flooding from downpours in the Phoenix area forced evacuations, closed major roads and left at least a thousand people momentarily without power, officials said Tuesday. Meanwhile, dramatic scenes played out throughout the region, where dozens of people were helped out of stranded cars.
Perhaps the most striking rescue came around noon when a helicopter crew pulled two women and three dogs from the roof of a house. They were pulled into safety as a river of water rose to roof level on their home just about 30 miles north of Phoenix.
About an hour earlier, officials had evacuated residents from a small trailer park about 35 miles north of Phoenix in New River. About 20 people had to take cover in a Red Cross shelter at a school because the rainfall caused a nearby river to go over its banks and flood the trailer park, said Dwight D'Evelyn, a spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
"It was very quick," he said of the gush of water heading for the park. "This came over fast and furious."
Residents probably will have to spend the night at the shelter and some may not be able to return to their homes if the flooding has made them uninhabitable, he said. No injuries were reported.
About the same time, the deluge flooded a creek near Interstate 17, south of New River. The creek overflowed its banks, sending water cascading across the desert and onto the interstate.
"I was pretty wild to watch on TV," said Timothy Tait, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation. "It was a sheet of water coming across the desert and when it hit the freeway, it turned into a river. It moved really quickly."
Tait said motorists did what they were supposed to do: stop and move to the left lanes. Nobody was injured and everyone was able to drive out once the road was cleared, he said.
Tait, a Phoenix native, said agency officials haven't seen flooding like this in recent history.
Farther north of Phoenix, a rock slide closed both lanes of Interstate 17. No injuries were reported.