Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

At least seven dead after flooding in Arizona

At least seven dead after flooding in Arizona

The family was relaxing alongside a popular swimming hole in Tonto National Forest, unaware that summer thunderstorms had just dropped heavy rains upstream.

Search and rescue crews recovered the bodies of five children and four adults, some as far as 2 miles down the river. Authorities did not identify them. A 13-year-old boy is still missing.

Almost an inch of rain is believed to have fallen between 1:15 p.m. and 3:55 p.m. local time on Saturday, according to the Automated Weather Observation Station in Payson, just south of the swimming hole. I just spoke with Sheriff Shepherd.

Video shot by Disa Alexander shot shortly after the flood showed a man in a tree holding his baby as water rushed around him. His wife was nearby, also in a tree. A boy Alexander described as the couple's son was on the rocks above the water.

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Fortunately help was close by. Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding, and at around 3:30 P.M., the Gila County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call about people missing.

Rescuers got to the four victims quickly after the crew heard their cries while they were nearby helping an injured hiker. About a dozen other people remain unaccounted for.

Four others were rescued on Saturday and taken to hospital for treatment for hypothermia.

The Republic reports the thunderstorm hit eight miles upstream; it wasn't even raining where the family had gathered.

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The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for much of Arizona, including the greater Phoenix area, through Monday evening. "There is no cell phone service out here".

"They had no warning". Arizona is in its monsoon season.

Nine people were killed when floodwaters from a sudden rainstorm thundered through a tranquil swimming area in Tonto National Forest. But officials warn that visitors need to be aware of the dangers of a flash flood.

It was unclear exactly how many more people might be missing.

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"Normally it's just a trickle of a creek, but during the monsoon season it can go from a foot deep to 10 feet deep in a matter of minutes", he said.

"It's a recreation area that a lot of people come up to - and the flash flood came through and washed 14 people away from the camp".

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