First Alert Weather: Powerful monsoon storms wreak havoc, leaving thousands without power

Eric Schurz and other family members went through the rubble Monday afternoon to save what they could.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:55 AM MST|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 7:17 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- An active monsoon season continued late Sunday night into early Monday morning as thousands still remain without power in the Valley. Areas of north Mesa saw almost an inch and a half of rain! Wind gusts of up to 80 mph knocked down large transmission towers, trees and cacti in many parts of the East Valley.

For thousands of SRP customers, primarily those living in Mesa, power outages continue after more than 40,000 customers lost power just after 8:30 p.m. Sunday night. Hundreds of APS customers in the Phoenix metro area lost service as well. A sudden microburst near Gilbert Road and the State Route 87 on the Salt River Indian Reservation destroyed a mobile home, sending a 61-year-old woman to the hospital. Authorities say the woman was trapped under debris after the monsoon hit Sunday night and was being treated for a broken vertebra. Video from the scene showed the mobile home reduced to piles of rubble with debris scattered across the property and roadway.

A man and his daughter also lost their home during the storm. “He just heard the trailer shaking, he grabbed his daughter and next you know he was laying in the puddle--the big old puddle--he was laying in the yard there,” said Eric Schurz, the man’s father. “The trailer just got demolished and you can see, this is it. This is what’s left. I’m just thankful they’re alive, nobody’s hurt you know.”

Schurz and other family members went through the rubble Monday afternoon to salvage what they could. “We just came over here to see what’s salvageable, see if we can find some clothes that are still good or not, wash them, see what happens. Just kind of going through, see what we can find, important paperwork stuff like that,” Schurz said. The family created a GoFundMe page to help them get back on their feet.

Damage reports are coming in from all over the Valley after Sunday night's storms.

With such major damage in the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, many couldn’t help but wonder if it was a tornado. The National Weather Service said the damage was the result of a microburst. “When you’re talking microburst you’re just talking about these quick bursts of winds that hit the ground and they push everything in the same direction,” said Tom Frieders, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service Phoenix. “Like we saw in this particular case, you can get such a down rush of air out of this thunderstorm that can put winds upwards of around 100 mph that can produce damage like we saw last evening.”

Those powerful monsoon rains also caused dangerous driving conditions on the U.S. 60 and the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway in the East Valley. Around 10:30 p.m., ADOT reported that a portion of a tree was blocking lanes on the 202 freeway. Officials also note that the SR 87 is closed in both directions near Stapley Drive and the closure will remain in place for the next two to three days as crews work to clear up and repair power lines in the area.

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