East Valley sustains heavy storm damage - East Valley Tribune: Weather

East Valley sustains heavy storm damage

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Posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 3:19 pm | Updated: 4:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Torrential rains and heavy winds caused significant damage to the East Valley Tuesday night, with the heaviest rainfall concentrated in Gilbert.

Residents in a number of areas endured flash floods, power outages, fires and road hazards as trees and power poles were knocked over.

The Gilbert Fire Department responded to a debris fire at the Banner Gateway Medical Center construction site, Higley and Baseline roads, which fire Capt. Jamie Spada said was possibly caused by a lightning strike.

Some areas of Gilbert received nearly three inches of rain in under three hours, the heaviest rainfall in the East Valley during the storm, according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District.

A microburst near Oak and 64th streets in Scottsdale blew out windows and knocked over power poles, National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Green said.

"Microburst winds can easily exceed hurricane force," Green said.

Green said the highest wind speed recorded Tuesday night at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was 59 mph, but he said microburst winds in other areas could have been much higher.

Salt River Project spokeswoman Patty Garcia-Likens said the utility still had about 900 customers without power this morning, primarily in Scottsdale. SRP hoped to restore power by the afternoon, she said.

"The extent of damage depends on the area, but basically we had some lines down and poles down in areas where there were outages," Garcia-Likens said. "At the peak of the storm we had about 20,000 customers out, again mostly Scottsdale."

In Mesa, police received triple the usual number of 911 and non-emergency calls between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Police said the total number of calls -- mostly related to fires, accidents, road hazards and power outages -- was 1,342.

Daisy Markham, a resident of the Mesa Shadows mobile home park near Broadway and Higley roads, said some homes in her neighborhood were without electricity and badly damaged, with carports and awnings ripped apart.

Markham has lived in the park since 1982 and said Tuesday night's storm caused "the worst damage I've ever seen, that's for sure."

Surprisingly, nearby Apache Junction received little rainfall and suffered no damage, Apache Junction Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Farber said.

"It sort of missed A.J.," Farber said. "We lucked out."

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