Monsoon Special 2013: Dust storm cleanup becomes ‘way of life’ in Casa Grande


by Kimberly Quintero

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 6 at 1:53 PM

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- When Wisconsin native Sue Helper retired and moved to Casa Grande almost eight years ago, she got her first taste of an Arizona dust storm.

"You see a brown cloud on the horizon, so you know it's coming, and you just batten the hatches and wait for it to blow through," Helper said.

With each passing storm, her enamor grew, and Helper developed a new hobby: photography.

"They're fascinating. I love to watch them," Helper said.

She cherishes video that she captured of a dust storm that made national headlines as it swept through her backyard in July 2011.

"That was an unbelievable storm," Helper said. "It just covered everything. The houses turned brown, and there was enough rain in the air that it turned it into mud and it just stuck to everything. It was a mess."

A mess that helper and her neighbors are now used to cleaning up.

"We all have leaf blowers that we blow off the dirt on our patio almost daily," she said. "It's just living in the desert. It's really a joy."

Helper said she's come to accept the extra chore.

"I mean, you live in the desert and you put up with it," she said. "I'd rather do this than have to shovel the snow."