THATCHER — The rain came softly at first but grew steadily to eventually overflow the channels and flood multiple homes.
Muddy water that had usually been contained in the canal now flowed through multiple Thatcher homes, seeping into the floors and vehicles. Fish were seen in the flood water by surprised residents as they plodded through the mud. At roughly 11 p.m. the flood waters began to recede.
Rain began at roughly 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening and intensified as night fell. The trouble began as first responders and police were notified at 7:51 p.m. to a woman and her family trapped in their house in Quail Ridge.
In speaking with the Courier, the inhabitant of the house had found her home completely flooded by three feet of water, and she was unable to open the doors and escape with her family. After calling for help, her neighbors were able to pry open the door and rescue the family. No one was injured.
When the Courier arrived at the scene, there was roughly a foot of water flowing down Pheasant Lane in Quail Ridge. First responders, including Thatcher Police, were on the scene assessing the situation.
After leaving Pheasant Lane, the Courier found that the majority of the west side of South First Avenue in Thatcher had also flooded.
“No injuries were reported and at least two houses received flood damage in that subdivision (of Quail Ridge),” Thatcher Police Chief Shaffen Woods said. “There were additional flood related issues throughout the area due to the heavy rainfall that occurred over a short period of time. We are thankful nobody was injured during these events and appreciate all the help we received from all of the local law enforcement agencies and Fire Department.”
Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne told the Courier that at roughly 10:30 p.m. it appeared the water had overpowered the regular channels coming off the nearby hills, overflowing the regular drainage routes.
Payne and several of his firefighters were out late, distributing sandbags to Thatcher residents. Payne said that several of the dorm rooms at the Eastern Arizona College Campus, several of the Howards Place apartments on High School Avenue and multiple homes in the area also suffered flood damage. Ironically, he said, he had not been back to check on his own home yet that night.
Thatcher Town Manager Heath Brown told the Courier that this rainfall and flood was in no way a run-of-the-mill event.
“Briefly, this was not a normal storm. The rainfall looks like a 100-year or larger storm. The town was out in full force late last night and will be all day today cleaning up the streets and helping residents how we can,” Brown said. “Mostly, we had street flooding, but there were homes flooded in Quail Ridge, some apartments and at least an additional home in town.”
The University of Arizona Meteorlogical Network Safford station record 1.38 inches of rainfall Wednesday, while the National Weather Service in Tucson reported 1.56 inches hitting the area between 4:15 p.m. and 10:51 p.m.