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First responders conducting water rescues due to East Valley flooding

PHOENIX — First responders conducted multiple water rescues Monday morning after thunderstorms caused heavy flooding in the East Valley.

Superstition Fire and Medical District said on Twitter that crews rescued a woman and her small child from an Apache Junction wash.

Around 8:15 a.m., the department said it had received five water rescue calls in the city.

“Water rescues can be an individual in a canal or in a flooded area, and/or individuals inside vehicles,” Forrest Smith, deputy chief with the Mesa Fire and Medical Department, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“And so what we’ve seen today is somewhat of an upsurge in individuals who’ve been attempting to apparently drive through flooded areas, and thus … finding themselves trapped.”

Smith said crews have been able to walk up to cars and escort people out safely.

“We haven’t had any situations that I’m aware of where we’ve actually had to … submerge (people) into water, then bring them to a safe place,” he said.

Smith said if the rain continues and flooding gets deeper, they may have to take more safety precautions.

In response to the rainfall, Salt River Project said it was releasing water into the normally dry Salt River from the Stewart Mountain and Granite Reef dams, which could produce dangerous conditions at flooded crossings in the Valley.

The water was expected to reach the Salt River crossings at Gilbert and McKellips road this afternoon and result in road closures before evening rush hour, SRP said in a press release.

Smith said it’s easy for drivers to miscalculate the depth of water, and they should not try to cross flooded areas, no matter what type of car they are driving.

“It only takes a couple of inches of water to move a vehicle,” he said.

Storms are expected to continue throughout the Valley through Tuesday morning.

The Phoenix area could see hail and winds up to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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