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Flood Threat Forces Ariz. Evacuations

February 13, 2005

PHOENIX (AP) _ A threat of flooding forced residents to evacuate part of one southeastern Arizona community Sunday following the latest in a series of winter storms that have pushed streams out of their banks in the midst of a drought.

The Gila River was headed toward a crest Sunday near the New Mexico state line and authorities were concerned about homes in the town of Duncan.

About 50 people were evacuated from the area as a precaution, said Steve Rutherford, emergency management coordinator for Greenlee County.

Heavy rain fell across wide areas of Arizona on Friday and Saturday as the storm arrived from California, where three deaths were blamed on the high wind and drenching rain. Rainfall around Arizona during the weekend included 1.28 inches in Phoenix, 2.36 at Apache Junction, and 2.01 at Cave Creek, authorities said.

Flooding on the Verde River north of Phoenix damaged about 16 homes in a rural area between Cottonwood and Clarkdale. No injuries or deaths were reported, said Yavapai County emergency management coordinator Nick Angiolillo said.

Near the headwaters of the Verde, water spread a quarter-mile across in the normally dry Big Chino Wash, isolating some residents of Paulden, north of Prescott, said Susan Quayle, a spokeswoman for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department.

Two homes and a car were swept away by high water in Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix, but no injuries were reported. Mayor Ron Badowski said damage to sewers, power lines and water mains could be repaired this week.

It was the third round of storms to strike central and northern Arizona since late December, but officials have said the storms aren’t enough to pull Arizona out of its nine-year drought.

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