USGS surveys flood aftermath in N. Phoenix

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by azfamily.com

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 8:52 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 25 at 12:00 PM

PHOENIX -- A team from the U.S. Geological Survey was working the Skunk Creek area in north Phoenix on Thursday, about 48 hours after torrential rains caused history-making flooding.

The experts were trying to determine exactly how much water tore through when it swamped the creek and flooded a nearby canal and a large portion of Interstate 17.

"We would be underwater right here," Jim Leenhouts told 3TV's Mike Watkiss. "It's called Skunk Creek but this was really more of a river when it came through here a couple of days ago."

The raging water was so powerful it left a guardrail mangled along I-17.

"We can estimate was it a 10-year event or a 1,000-year event which doesn't guarantee it's not going to happen again," Leenhouts said. "The bottom line is it's critical to collect information like this so that we have this data. We can't effectively plan or build structures without this kind of information."

The specialists surveyed the aftermath like a crime scene, carefully searching for evidence indicating the flood's highest point.

"There's lot of clues out here, bits and pieces in the bushes," Leenhouts said.

The USGS expects to have its data compiled within the next couple of days.

"(It's a) pretty impressive event," Leenhouts said. "Obviously structures get damaged and that's unfortunate and tragic in places, but it's pretty interesting to see a flow like this come through."

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