Firefighters rescue women, pets from flooded house in New River

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

NEW RIVER, Ariz. -- In one of the many water rescues that took place Tuesday afternoon, a technical rescue team pulled two people from a home in New River that was surrounded by rushing flood water.

Chopper 3 was over 43rd Avenue and New River Road when rescuers long-lined from the Phoenix Firebird helicopter to the house after spotting a woman in a window waving a towel, desperate for help.

Two women, one 40 and one 70, were inside the house.

Because they did not appear to be in immediate danger, rescuers took their time laying out a plan to get Tracey Tumlinson and Marcia Fuller to dry land.

At one point, the water with its strong current was about waist high. Firefighters said it was up to the door.

According to Maricopa County Flood Control, New River Wash, which is normally dry, peaked at 10.2 feet with 15,000 cubic feet per second of water flowing.

After about an hour, the water had receded enough that rescuers in life jackets and hard hats were able to walk the residents, also clad in safety gear, through the mud and remaining water to safety. Firefighters surrounded the women as they helped them one by one.

The team rescued three dogs that were in the house, as well.

Crews from Phoenix, Daisy Mountain, Buckeye all worked together on the rescue operation.

No injuries were reported, and both Tumlinson and Fuller are grateful to the firefighters who came to their rescue.

Video from the scene showed that the house appeared to be off its foundation, possibly pushed by the water's current.

With nearly 4.5 inches of rain reported in a very short time, New River is one of areas hardest hit by Tuesday's storms.

"The definition of flash flooding is what we've seen all across northern Maricopa County this morning and early this afternoon," 3TV Chief Meteorologist Royal Norman said.

Longtime residents say they have never seen flooding like this.

Norman said this, like last week's flood in Laveen, was a "1,000-year flood."