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South Mountain Neighborhoods Deal With Damage From Tuesday's Storm

Red Cross volunteers help residents clean up and assess damage at 23rd Avenue near Dobbins Road.
(Photo by Alexandra Olgin - KJZZ)
Red Cross volunteers help residents clean up and assess damage at 23rd Avenue near Dobbins Road.

Clean-up efforts are still underway in South Phoenix and Laveen. The devastation from Tuesday night’s storm ranges from flooded houses to damaged schools and closed streets.

Water is still rushing through the ditches along Dobbins Road near South Mountain. 

Debora Colbert’s home on 23 rd Avenue backs right up to the mountain. On Tuesday night it filled up with five feet of water.

“And before we knew it, water started inundating through just coming over through this from this direction all in. Just pouring in,” said Colbert.   

Her husband and neighbor are loading drywall ripped from the house into a dumpster.

“I have to pull all the cabinets out. I have to pull the tub and the showers out. I have to pull everything out of these rooms, so the entire house,” said Colbert. 

The Colberts' were told they didn’t need flood insurance and therefore didn’t buy it. So all of the repairs are coming out of pocket. She is trying to coordinate flood victims claims for compensation from government agencies.  

“If everyone is doing things independently, it starts to get scattered, it starts to appear as if everybody is on that individual fight as opposed to a unified fight,” said Colbert.

Colbert said she is taking the situation day-by-day, and Sunland Elementary School is doing the same. Roosevelt School District spokesman Joseph Ortiz said more than half of the building is still unusable.

“We are making do with having some classes in the library, having some classes in the computer labs, having some classes in the cafeteria,” said Ortiz. 

The Red Cross has been out since Wednesday helping residents clean up and get medications lost in the flood. Councilwoman Kate Gallego wants to get the flooded neighborhoods designated a disaster area to possibly qualify for state and federal aid.

“The Red Cross is collecting information on how bad the damage is to help us understand what tools are available to us. We can get certain levels of support if the state declares it a disaster. But we need to know how big the damage was,” said Gallego. 

Gallego said if there are between 25 and 56 houses with at least half of the house damaged, that hits a threshold where flood victims can get aid in the form of low-interest loans, money and state assistance.

Alexandra Olgin was a Senior Field Correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2016.