Heavy Rains Cause Havoc In Rim Country

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Heavy rains flooded some homes, closed roads and kept other residents out of their homes in Star Valley and three Payson area subdivisions Monday evening.

One person was rescued from a van between Flowing Springs Road and the first crossing. Residents got to the van and pulled the man to safety. The van was removed from the river Tuesday morning, Gila County Sheriff's officer Lt. Tim Scott said.

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Mike Snively gestures in frustration to Doug Eckhardt across the flooded second crossing in East Verde Estates. Snively and his family were forced to stay with neighbors, due to the high water level. Snively said whole trees were rushing down the river like toothpicks around 11:30 p.m. Monday. Water levels were at least 10 feet high in some places.

Scott said floodwaters kept deputies from getting to the East Verde Estates area.

A portion of the Houston Mesa Road, about 4.5 miles from Highway 87, was washed out. The creek overflowed and took out some of the roadway, Scott said. Road crews have repaired part of the road, and one lane is open for travel.

In Star Valley, the heavy rains isolated about 20 homes and 40 people, said Diamond Star Fire District Chief Gary Hatch.

"So far as we know, only one home was damaged," he said.

Star Valley fire department officials coordinated with the Red Cross to check on families in the area, a process that was ongoing, as of Tuesday morning.

The Highway 260 bridge at Cornerstone Way, which was recently doubled in size, had water to the top of the bridge on Monday at 6:05 p.m., Hatch said.

There were no forced evacuations that he is aware of, Scott said. Assessments are being completed now, and there are no damage estimates.

A Red Cross shelter was set up at Mount Cross Lutheran Church. Red Cross officials said flood evacuations prompted them to set up the shelter for local residents affected by the heavy rains from Star Valley, East Verde Estates, Whispering Pines and Beaver Valley.

Four families from East Verde Estates went to the Red Cross shelter beginning at 10 p.m. Monday evening. Red Cross officials said Monday's heavy rains affected some 400 homes.

Four unoccupied homes in Whispering Pines were flooded, Chief Mark Essary of the Whispering Pines Fire Department said, but no forced evacuations took place. He was making a closer inspection of flood damage Tuesday.

All those evacuated were able to get back into their homes on Tuesday morning, and the shelter was closed down, said Barbara Stevens, center district disaster specialist for the American Red Cross.

East Verde Estates resident Mike Snively said water levels were at least 10 feet high at around 11:30 p.m. Monday. The rushing high water was receding, but was still several feet above normal Tuesday morning.

All the roads into these subdivisions have been re-opened, except for the Tonto crossing, but there is only one lane in and out in some places, said Stevens.

Extensive flooding from Monday night's rains closed several crossings in the East Verde Estates area north of Payson.

The Gila County Sheriff's Department closed the East Verde and Tonto crossings last night, as well as confining Houston Mesa Road to one-way traffic, due to extensive flooding.

A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said that, as of Tuesday morning, all crossings have been re-opened to the public, except Tonto.

Mary Cambier, a member of the East Verde Park Fire Department, said that despite fears that floodwaters might overflow the banks of the East Verde River, and as far as she knows, no homes were flooded.

"As far as I know, no one had to be evacuated and there were no emergencies I am aware of either," Cambier said.

"There was some fear that we could lose a water pump that is high on the bank of the river behind some houses near Eleanor Street, but it came through fine."

Cambier said the Red Cross had set up an emergency aid station near East Verde Estates Monday night.

Cambier said she was unaware of any emergencies the Red Cross had to address, and that, as of this morning, they were in the process of packing up and leaving.

Volunteers with the Red Cross provided some local residents with shelter, snacks, water, and compassion, as well as comfort kits. The comfort kits included a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

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