Rain sparks flooding, water rescues in Surprise

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols, April Warnecke and Jason Durand

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 7:34 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 17 at 2:44 PM

Map: 163rd Ave. & Dale Lane

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Valley is getting some much-needed rain, but that rain is wreaking havoc on some northwest Valley homes.

The rain started coming down between 10 p.m. and midnight, continuing through the overnight and early morning hours. Rain gauges showed between 0.2 inch in Downtown Phoenix and 0.59 inch in Chandler. According to the National Weather Service, some desert areas saw as much as 1.5 inches.

While many Valley residents are thrilled to see the rain, others are somewhat less than pleased.

Several homes in the Surprise area were flooded, including at least one in the neighborhood of 163rd Avenue and Dale Lane.

Mike Berryhill was up all night, cleaning up what Mother Nature left behind. He told 3TV's Tess Rafols, the water outside his home was up to 2.5 feet at one point. He said the power had gone off a couple of times before he realized what was happening.

"When the lights came back on the third time, after the first clap of thunder, then I heard what sounded like splashing water," Berryhill said. "It was a weird sound. I hadn't heard that before."

When he went to check it out, he discovered it actually was splashing water he was hearing.

"Water was just pouring through the front door and the garage door," he continued.

While the water receded relatively quickly, every inch of Berryhill's floor was drenched.

"It's all soaked -- saturated," he said. "It didn't leave as quick as it came, but it left pretty quick."

Several roads near Berryhill's home flooded, as well. Police said eight people had to be rescued when their vehicles got stuck in the mud and water. No one was seriously injured.

Surprise police were able to take stranded residents across the flooded roadway to their homes for essential personal belongings using a police Humvee. After the rescue efforts were completed, police remained on scene to provide assistance to residents in the event of an emergency.

Area resident Bruno Lipsys said has hadn't seen anything like Thursday night's flooding since the early '90s.

"It just sounded like a train going through," Lipsys said. "Walls of water -- 8, 10 feet wide. Whitecap water. Debris. Mud. Everything you could think of was just flowing down through there."

An aerial survey showed several areas of standing water and many flooded yards.

While the mess is extensive, no injuries were reported.

It's not entirely clear where all of the water came from since rain gauges show the Surprise area only got about 0.24 inch of rain, less than many other areas. Some residents are concerned that the flooding was the result of a canal that overflowed. Others believe it might have come down from the mountains where the Gladiator Fire burned more than 16,000 acres in May.

Surprise police said they hope to know more about the source of the flooding later in the day.

This storm dropped down from the north, where it hammered Flagstaff on Thursday. Some areas up there saw as much as 2 inches of hail.

Rain is expected on and off throughout the day.This is our third day in a row of cloudy weather, and once again the mercury will not make it up to the triple digits. Scattered showers will remain in the forecast through the weekend.

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