Record Rains Cause Flooding, Accidents

Stores flooded on Wade Lane, Bonita

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

A trailer is fully loaded and ready to pull out after heavy rains caused the Payson National Night Out Program to be canceled Saturday afternoon.

Severe rains from monsoonal storms Friday and Saturday flooded at least half a dozen businesses in Payson and washed away plans for a police-sponsored event.

Famous Sam’s, Laura’s Small Café, Lowery’s Window and Door, Payson Center for Spiritual Awareness and Polish Plus all reported several inches of water quickly flooded their businesses, leaving behind dirt and debris and forcing them to close early.

A number of Payson homeowners spent their Sunday sweeping gravel from the street and repairing flooded yards and driveways.

Robin Weaver, co-owner of Polish Plus, a new nail salon in the Lowery’s Wade Plaza, 107 W. Wade Lane, said although muddy water filled their store Friday afternoon, they continued to service clients.

“We just lifted up our electrical cords and kept going,” she said.

Weaver, along with co-owner Cozette Ridge and nail technician Carla Shreeve, kicked off their shoes and painted nails.

“We had to finish our clients,” Weaver said.

Once the waters subsided, clients walked out, careful not to damage their pedicures.

Despite a little mud on the floors, Polish Plus held its grand opening ceremony Monday afternoon.

Next door to Polish Plus, Lowery’s Window and Door showroom was swamped with several inches of rain.

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Michelle LeLusche photo

A photo of flooding at Wade Plaza during the weekend.

Fayth Lowery explained that since the plaza sits lower than Wade Lane, water from the street quickly floods their parking lot. On Friday, water drenched the ground so quickly that it did not have time to drain off and deluged the area.

Fayth’s husband Bobby Lowery and his father Bob Lowery, owner of the plaza, cut a chain link fence blocked by debris, cleared clogged drains and drilled holes in a concrete wall behind the plaza to drain water sitting in the parking lot. Bob said he stood in four feet of water for two and half hours, kicking debris through the wall.

When they did this, water was sent downhill, flooding businesses south of the center, including Laura’s Small Cafe.

Meanwhile, inside Lowery’s, water drifted throughout the showroom to the back room, soaking windows and doors, but not causing any severe damage.

Fayth said it took several hours to remove the water, which swept in like a wave anytime a car drove by.

“It was rolling in so fast we could not stop it,” she said. “Within 15 minutes the whole shop was flooded.”

Bob said this is the third time the plaza has flooded in recent years. Bob blamed the flooding on new building and parking lots in the area, which send increased water down the street.

“Everything gets clogged up to my building,” he said. “There is so much debris from people not cleaning their yards.”

On Monday, Bob had sandbags lined up at the plaza, ready for any more storms.

Upstairs from Lowery’s, Michelle LeLusche of AAA Credit Bureau, said she was amazed at the amount of water that collected in a small amount of time.

“It was kind of strange to see it keep building and building and building,” she said.

At Laura’s Small Café, Jessica Seeley said they were shocked to see water rushing through their kitchen and back rooms around noon Friday.

Although staff was able to keep most of the water out of the dining room, the café was forced to close early Friday and then again Saturday, when another storm hit the area.

Water soaked the café’s carpets, which had recently been cleaned. Luckily, the plaza’s owner agreed to pay for carpet cleaning.

At Famous Sam’s, 307 S. Beeline Highway, owner Christine Zuber said a staff of four worked frantically Friday to keep water from the main dining room, which was flooded with patrons seeking shelter when the storm hit.

Staff donned with mops, brooms and squeegees pushed water coming through three back doors into drains and buckets.

In the front of the restaurant, one waiter served guests.

On Saturday, Zuber and her husband Bud Zuber set sandbags up behind the restaurant, keeping water out.

Christine said she had blisters from the all the cleaning she had done, but was proud of her staff for all the hard work.

The Zubers have owned the restaurant for only a month.

At Green Valley Park, the Payson Police Department was forced to cancel the National Night Out celebration Saturday due to heavy rain “that came in and turned the area into a virtual river.”

“The Payson Police Department wishes to thank all of those who donated and participated. However, due to the number of events to be held over the next couple of months, the National Night Out Family Fun Day will not be rescheduled,” said Chief Don Engler.

Police still encourage residents to participate in National Night Out Tuesday evening by locking their doors, going outside and meeting their neighbors. National Night Out is a crime and drug prevention event designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit, police-community partnerships and support anti-crime programs.

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