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Phoenix-area fire department rescues five people from storm floodwaters

Scottsdale Fire Department crews were kept busy Friday, when a large storm rolled through the Phoenix area during the morning commute. (Twitter Photo/@ScottsdaleFire)

PHOENIX — Crews were kept busy Friday in a Phoenix suburb after a large storm rolled through during the morning commute.

While most of the city saw small areas of localized flooding, north Scottsdale was hit hardest by the storm. Rain gauges near Pinnacle Peak recorded as much as 2.72 inches of rain and others withing a several-mile radius recorded rainfall of 1.61 inches.

Because of the heavy rainfall — most of it was on the ground by 10 a.m. — washes in north Scottsdale turned into rivers in a short amount of time.

Several drivers attempted to cross those rivers and got stuck, meaning Scottsdale Fire Department crews were called into action.

In total, they had three separate rescues and rescued five people from the storm floodwaters.

One rescue took place at the intersection of Happy Valley and Hayden Roads, when the driver of a U-Haul vehicle tried to cross the flooded road. That vehicle became stuck in the fast-moving water. The Phoenix Fire Department also aided in the water rescue.

Scottsdale Fire Battalion Executive Officer Dave Folio said both occupants of the U-Haul vehicle were safely removed. There were no injuries reported.

Folio said the department was forced to respond for several calls for help both during and slightly after the storm because drivers ignored signs warning them of floodwaters.

“We’ve got barricades set up and people are driving around the barricades, thinking they can make it through the wash,” he said. “It’s really important to remember that six inches of water will sweep a person off their feet.”

Folio said two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. He also said, because of the state’s stupid motorist law, drivers who go around a barricade and get stuck can be billed for the water rescue.

“It’s very dangerous for the rescuers that have to come and try and make a [water rescue] attempt,” he said. “[Washes] may look like they’re not flowing that fast but they’re flowing really fast underneath where you can’t see it.”

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