Wednesday Downpour Floods Star Valley

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Portions of Star Valley were underwater Wednesday afternoon after a brief downpour flooded ditches, washes and gutters.

Several homes, as well as the Star Valley Baptist Church that houses Town Hall, had in excess of one foot of water running through their yards, driveways and parking lots.

"It came down from the mountains real fast," said Star Valley Town Manager Lanny Sloan. "The whole parking lot was like a river."

Town Clerk Sarah Luckie said the water was up to the axles on both hers and Sloan's vehicles.

Sloan said all of the flooding took place in about five minutes, adding he was outside 10 minutes earlier and everything was fine.

Several businesses on the north side of Highway 260 had standing water outside their buildings.

Larry and Judy Willingham, who live on Orion Road, was one of the homes that had the most flooding.

As Larry Willingham used a broom to sweep the water away from his home, located next door to the Star Valley Baptist Church, he said it was the most rain he had seen since he has lived in Star Valley.

"I am not in a good mood right now," he said. "Thank the good Lord it did not go into the home."

The rainwater, which had entered his shed in his back yard, was standing at 14 to 18 inches in his driveway and yard.

He said he had already made plans to visit Phoenix later in the week, but added he will have to come back sooner to take care of the damage to his home that was caused by the water.

"I have been here since 1978, and I haven't seen anything like this," he said. "The county and state are going to have to talk to me."

Judy Willingham said she first saw a trickle of water coming down Orion Road before it turned into a raging river.

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Around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, over two inches of rain fell in less than one-and-a-half hours causing flooding across Rim Country. On Houston Mesa Road, storm runoff from the area north of Shoofly, filled washes with both muddy water and debris that included logs. The logs clogged the large culvert crossing Houston Mesa Road, just south of Wonder Valley, stopping traffic in both directions for nearly an hour. As the water receded, Bill Allred brought a front-end loader and cleared the debris from the roadway.

"We had the river running through the (driveway)," she said. She could not get outside her home due to the large amount of water and called her husband to tell him what was happening.

Larry Willingham said he is not blaming anyone because things sometimes happen.

Resident Rodney Nuckles said he was sleeping when the storm rolled through. He said he had never seen water rise to such a level.

The yard outside his trailer home was mostly mud and part of the earth on the back end of his home had given way.

His home was yards from the bridge where the water overflowed.

He pointed to some logs that, he said, took three men to move, that water had pushed across his yard. He also pointed to the water line on his home, which was about two-feet high.

Arizona Department of Public Safety was the first agency to arrive on the scene.

Department of Public Safety Police Officer John Whetten said at the height of the flooding, water was running passed the centerline on Highway 260.

Soon after the rain stopped, water had receded in most places.

"The drains got overwhelmed," Whetten said. "I will just put some cones down here and baby-sit. "It's going down pretty fast."

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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