USA – State of Emergency After Flash Floods Leave 2 Dead in Arizona

Officials in Gila Bend, Arizona, USA, declared a state of emergency after flash floods caused 2 fatalities and severe damage on 14 August 2021.

Monsoon rains once again triggered flash flooding in Arizona, with the town of Gila Bend in Maricopa County the worst affected. The town is situated about 50 miles / 80 km southwest of Phoenix, Arizona.

Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs declared a local State of Emergency due to the severe flooding that occurred overnight, 13 to 14 August 2021. In a statement, the mayor said the “American Red Cross is on its way to assist in the needs of our community. The Gila Bend Community Center is OPEN and we have Town Staff on hand to assist.” Mayor Riggs also requested assistance from Maricopa County.

Roads around the town were under water and vehicles were left stranded. Over 100 people are thought to have evacuated their homes. Emergency crews in a helicopter rescued 30 people from rooftops, local media said. The mayor confirmed 2 people died in the floods and that search and rescue operations were continuing, suggesting more people were feared missing, possibly in stranded vehicles. Local media said once victim died after being swept away in a flood channel (known locally as a flood wash), while another was in a vehicle caught in flood waters.

The Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management activated the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate community organizations and assist with response activities. The Maricopa County Department of Transportation sent crews and equipment to remove debris from roads and assist with recovery. Flooding also closed parts of the Interstate 17 near Phoenix late on 13 August. The road was re-opened the next day.

Governor if Arizona, Doug Ducey, said “Arizona is actively working with local emergency officials to assist in the response to the recent flooding in Gila Bend. We are in contact with local first responders to provide resources and prepare a state declaration of emergency.”

Gila Bend recorded 1.46 inches (37mm) of rain in 24 hours to 14 August. A weather station in the Maricopa Mountains close to the town recorded 3.9 inches (99 mm) according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District.

Map of rainfall in Maricopa County, Arizona after floods in Gila Bend 13 to 14 August 2021. Image: Flood Control District of Maricopa County

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