Fierce storm leaves E.V. with uprooted trees, damaged homes and flooding - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Fierce storm leaves E.V. with uprooted trees, damaged homes and flooding

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Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 2:07 pm | Updated: 6:54 am, Tue Oct 19, 2010.

The wild rain storm that blew through the East Valley on Tuesday downed nearly 120 trees in Chandler, damaged at least 38 homes in Mesa, knocked out power to thousands, and forced a dozen residents to seek shelter from a neighborhood church.

The Dobson Ranch area in southwest Mesa was especially hit hard.

"The golf course looks like a big bomb came down on it," said Todd Hoyt, tournament director at Mesa's Dobson Ranch Golf Course, 2155 S. Dobson Road, where about 40 trees were uprooted and branches from about 50 trees were broken and scattered about. The golf course was closed Wednesday and was expected to remain closed on Thursday.

And, one non-life threatening injury was reported from Tuesday's storm: A 6-month old Mesa baby was taken to a hospital for observation after being hit with pieces of drywall that fell from a home, according to Forrest Smith, a Mesa fire spokesman.

The storm, described by meteorologists as one of the fastest and most active they had ever seen, stemmed from a large upper-level system mixed with strong winds over California that traveled into Arizona. That created the perfect recipe for 45 to 75 mph winds, baseball-sized hail that toppled utility poles, power lines and trees, and downpours that flooded some areas, according to information from the National Weather Service.

The storm pelted anywhere from .5 to 2 inches of rain throughout the Valley, but there were some reports that areas of Mesa received more than that, according to Ken Waters of the National Weather Service. As of late Wednesday morning, Chandler had received .94 inches, according to the rain gauge near Chandler Boulevard and Alma School Road.

"It was a pretty good downpour, but here at the airport (Sky Harbor International), we probably received less rain than most places," Waters said. Overall, about 1.7 inches of rain fell at the airport.

The brunt of the storm moved into northern Arizona communities of Flagstaff, Sedona and Williams where at least two tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down on Wednesday, affecting hundreds of homes.

In Mesa's Dobson Ranch area, St. Timothy's Catholic Community Church opened its doors to provide shelter, chili and hot dogs to about a dozen people whose homes were damaged. The church also received some water damage to its roof and the amphitheatre was still under water on Wednesday, according to church spokeswoman Vickie Jennett. Palo Verde, ash and pine trees dating back to the early 1980s when the church was built were lost in the storm.

"We don't want to see the disaster, but we like to see people respond in times like these," Jennett said. "Neighbors who had power and were able to stay in their homes brought in food for others."

The Red Cross also was on hand at St. Timothy's, equipped to help 100 people, but most of the families who were displaced from their homes along West Peralta - where it was believed a microburst touched down - found shelter elsewhere.

In Chandler, another large portion of the storm hit in an area bordered by U.S. 60 to the north, Chandler Municipal Airpark to the south, Loop 101 to the west and McQueen Road to the east, prompting 44 calls for service to the city's Streets Division. City crews worked to remove nearly 120 trees and two storage sheds that blocked streets or sidewalks.

The crews worked until about 8 a.m. Wednesday performing emergency removal of trees and other debris that blocked roadways, driveways, median turn lanes and pedestrian thoroughfares.

Downed power lines closed a section of Knox Road for several hours west of McQueen Road Wednesday, and traffic signals at the intersections of Ray Road and Arizona Avenue, Ray and Dobson roads, and Dobson Road and Chandler Boulevard were temporarily without power.

Shawnee, Folley, Hoopes, Navarrete and Maggio Ranch parks also were affected with numerous downed trees. A tree also fell on a water slide at the Desert Oasis Aquatic Center, 1400 W. Summit Place, causing damage.

The number of SRP customers throughout Mesa and Chandler who were without power during the early part of Tuesday's storm had dwindled from about 19,000 to 600 as of Wednesday morning, according to Patty Garcia-Likens, an SRP spokeswoman. Most of those customers without power on Wednesday were scattered throughout the west Valley and in Queen Creek, and were expected to have their power restored by Wednesday afternoon, Garcia-Likens said.

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