By Chris Caraveo
Diane LeMaire was about to leave Fry’s with baked chicken in her hand when the monsoon finally hit the Sun City area Monday afternoon.
Instead of braving the storm, she decided to sit on a bench by the door and wait for the winds to die down.
“But of course, everyone panicked,” Ms. LeMaire said. Employees had told shoppers to stay inside but some people wanted to test their luck.
While people exited the store, a woman was reportedly blown down to the ground by the wind. Ms. LeMaire didn’t see the incident happen, but could hear people talking about it, including that the woman had sustained a cut to the neck.
Soon enough a Sun City Fire & Medical Department ambulance arrived.
Fire Marshal Jim Fox didn’t have any details regarding the incident but did say an EMS call was logged in that area around 5 p.m.
Across Grand Avenue, the train track lights turned on despite the lack of box cars in the vicinity.
Ms. LeMaire stayed at the store for about 45 minutes, eating her chicken while wind and rain played together.
When she finally returned home about a mile from the store, Ms. LeMaire found two of her barbecue grills overturned in the backyard.
Damages and incidents Valleywide
An Arizona native, Ms. LeMaire said Monday’s storm was one of the worst she’s seen in years. Her opinion was evident across the Valley.
A woman in Mesa was trapped in her vehicle as it submerged into a flooded canal. Luckily, that city’s fire department said, there was a pocket of air in her vehicle that allowed her to breathe while first responders rescued her. Several mobile homes in Buckeye were uprooted, according to officials. A motel in Phoenix had part of its roof blown off, damaging at least one vehicle parked outside.
Almost everywhere in the Valley, trees toppled over and visibility was at a minimum due to blowing dust.
According to the Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service outage maps, thousands of customers were without power at various times of the day. The cities impacted the most by the outages were in Buckeye, Mesa and Apache Junction.
Some people in the Northwest Valley said they experienced outages, but nothing of the magnitude in other parts of the Phoenix area.
Officials in Glendale are reminding motorists of the dangers of driving into flooded waters. Police Chief Rick St. John spoke about the so called “stupid motorist law,” which permits some drivers who get their vehicle stuck to pay for the ensuing rescue by first responders.
In June, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said it will not be enforcing that law in its jurisdiction, which includes the Sun Cities and Youngtown in the Northwest Valley.
MCSO worries that people who can’t afford the fine won’t call for help. Motorists who get stuck might be required to reimburse law enforcement and fire agencies up to $2,000 for rescue costs, according to a report.
Department response numbers
The Peoria Fire-Medical Department was dispatched to 73 calls on Monday. A house fire near 87th Avenue and Pinnacle Peak Road before 5 p.m. appears to have been related to the storm, according to an official.
The department also responded to downed power lines, including one around 9 p.m.
Sun City crews responded to 39 calls, including three downed power lines and four fires.
Peoria Fire recommends residents stay indoors and not to drive if possible during a storm.
Downloading a weather app on your phone to track storm activity is recommended. Maricopa County residents should consider ready.maricopa.gov for additional safety updates in real time.
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