Hurricane's Rain In Rim Country Closes Beeline

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The remnants of Hurricane Javier brought more than three inches of rain to Payson -- and forced another closure on Highway 87.

Southbound Highway 87 was closed most of Sunday morning, said Ron Woolwine, maintenance supervisor for the Arizona Department of Transportation road department in Payson.

The road was closed from about 8:30 a.m. to noon Sunday because of mud and debris.

"There was no damage to the roadway," Woolwine said.

In addition to the closure, there were falling rocks on both Highway 87 and Highway 260. Most of this was north of Pine and around Christopher Creek, Woolwine said.

The roads in Payson didn't have any damage, according to Public Works Engineer LaRon Garrett.

"We did better than the last storm," he said, referring to the Aug. 15 storm that caused a lot of flooding on the south end of town. "There was nothing major on the streets. It was just normal clean-up."

Some residents near the intersection of Phoenix and Ash Streets on the south side of town might disagree.

Bud Matson went out in the rain early Sunday morning to help prevent flooding in the home of neighbor Alice Matthews by building a homemade levy.

"The reason the water comes into these properties is because the berm was removed during some earlier roadwork," Matson said. "The water coming down Phoenix Street turns and goes north right into this woman's home. It's even gone beyond her property and into my mobile home."

Sgt. Todd Bramlet of the Payson Police Department said the weekend was actually on the quiet side for his office.

"I think the fire department had one call about a house that flooded on Pecan," Bramlet said.

The Payson P.D. made its highway message sign available to ADOT to alert drivers to the closure on Highway 87. He said a lot of drivers didn't believe the sign and kept calling the town dispatchers to double check.

"They took a lot of abuse," Bramlet said.

Ken Daniel of the National Weather Service said besides the 3.25 inches of reported rain, there was a severe thunderstorm warning issued for Gila, Coconino and Yavapai counties, with the possibility of large hail and high winds in some remote areas. The highest wind gusts reported in the Rim country were to the east of the Payson area in Carrizo, where there were 42 mph gusts Monday morning and Limestone Canyon with 40 mph gusts, also Monday morning.

This is the third storm to batter the Jake's Corner area. With the loss of vegetation from the Willow Fire and the controlled burns that followed, recent heavy rains have sent water over the banks of Hardt Creek, eating away at property and sending a wide array of materials downstream.

"In 80 years, the water has never run over our bridge," said Claudia Washborn of the Jake's Corner Store. This year water has topped the bridge and caused the road to be closed.

"It was awful. I think we had about six inches of rain," she said.

In one recent storm a trailer was even washed away, she said. This storm sent a large dumpster and a big tree down the creek. It became stuck under the bridge and Gila County Road Department personnel had to come out to pull it free so the water could keep flowing.

Washborn said the store is flooded again and she has heard from several residents around the area that either had water and mud come into their homes or get as high as their porches.

Jake Williams, who runs the Jake's Corner RV Park, saw part of his property near his home washed downstream, he said he also lost the exit road from the park and four storage sheds full of belongings.

"There are three I haven't been able to find yet," Williams said.

Washborn said ADOT had done some clearing of debris on her side of the bridge and another resident of the area, Shannon Marshall, saw some work being done on the creek bank just before the storm hit this weekend.

"But they couldn't finish," she said.

Washborn said she has been told that they have to get permission from the Forest Service and Corps of Engineers before they can do anything to the creek.

"It's filling up with mud," she said.

The first frost of the season is being predicted to follow on the heels of the storm, according to NWS. Daniel said there is a low pressure trough moving in with a cold front, which will produce chilly temperatures.

Anna Mae Deming, weather observer said the NWS told her there could be a hard frost Tuesday, Sept. 21. Daniel said the NWS expects an average low of 37 or 38 for the Payson area, with temperatures closer to freezing at higher elevations.

Deming recommended people plan on bringing in their plants and Glen McCombs of Plant Fair Nursery reinforced that recommendation. "If plants are portable they should be brought under shelter," he said.

If plants cannot be moved, cover them with sheets or blankets, use frost blankets or use "Cloud Cover" an anti-transpirant that helps plants hold moisture, McCombs said.

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