Authorities rescue several drivers around Phoenix after rain brings flooding

Thursday, August 24th 2006, 9:30 pm
By: News On 6

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Heavy rain caused flooding in the Phoenix area Thursday, turning normally dry riverbeds into raging rivers and trapping motorists.

Firefighters waded into the Indian Bend Wash to help two people out of two cars and walk them out of the swift knee-deep water.

The Scottsdale portion of the wash runs for eight miles and was built in the 1970s as a flood-control measure, said city spokesman Mike Phillips.

It's normally dry and contains parks, golf courses and lakes, but it runs with water during heavy storms. At those times it can look like a raging river.

"Today it's functioning as it was intended to do, and that is carry a heck of a lot of water out of the mountains," Phillips said.

Elsewhere, a woman driving through a flooded Phoenix intersection became trapped momentarily, but firefighters rescued her without incident, said Mike Sandulak, a division chief with the Phoenix Fire Department. Several other cars were stranded in the intersection but no one else needed to be rescued.

Emergency personnel in other jurisdictions also reported calls to pull people from stranded vehicles.

National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Green said between 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches of rain fell early Thursday in spots around the Phoenix metro area.

Elsewhere Thursday, severe thunderstorms moved through southern Minnesota, spawning tornadoes that damaged buildings, twisted trees off their trunks and downed power lines. No injuries were immediately reported.

Thunderstorms earlier in the day dropped softball-sized hail on several communities south of the Twin Cities. Hundreds of cars, trees and homes were damaged.

"Every car in the lot was damaged," said Doug Fitzgerald, sales manager at Dokmo Ford-Chrysler in Northfield. "It looks like a war zone."