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South Phoenix Still Reeling From Two Floods

It's been days since record rain swamped the Valley, but there are still standing pools of water in South Phoenix - like this one, near 19th Avenue and Dobbins Road.
(Photo by Stina Sieg KJZZ)
It's been days since record rain swamped the Valley, but there are still standing pools of water in South Phoenix - like this one, near 19th Avenue and Dobbins Road.

It has been two days since record rainfall in the Valley flooded freeways, prompted evacuations and closed schools. But for some communities, the clean up is just beginning. 

Stand at the corner of 27th Avenue and Dobbins Road, and you’ll still see the quiet aftermath of Monday’s flooding all around you: blocked off roads, standing pools of brown, stagnant water, and thick mud everywhere. But this is not as bad as last time. At least that’s what customers at Del Monte Market are saying. Outside, Ivan Worley said he had sandbags on hand for this latest storm.

"Helps out, helps out," Worley said, smiling. "Just got to keep the frogs out of the pool now."

Yes, frogs are his biggest concern today. But almost exactly a month ago, Worley and his neighbors had much bigger worries. His backyard was flooded, and water surged onto his patio. It caught him, and many others in this rural area, off guard. That includes Joyce Oliphant, who was inside the little corner store buying a lottery ticket.

"I need to get lucky, right?" Oliphant joked with the clerk. "Two floods? Come on, scratcher!"

Oliphant lives right behind the market – at least, she did until August 12. It started out a joyous day, with her daughter giving birth. But then, the rain set in. Oliphant was so afraid for her home, she had to leave the hospital. She rushed back to her property, which soon turned into a "river," she said. Once she had more than two feet of water in her house, she knew she needed help.

"I had to call 911, because I didn’t know how high it was going to get, and it kept flowing through my yard," she said. "I had railroad ties coming through my front yard from my neighbors landscaping."

So Oliphant, her five dogs and one cat were rescued by the fire department. She said Monday’s storm was nowhere near as dramatic, with only a few inches of water in her home. But it still created quite a mess – and smell. Like before, the floodwater pushed horse manure from her nearby stables into her house. She’s just starting the massive clean-up process. 

"It’s going to be for months," she said, shaking her head.

But Oliphant has been here for 17 years,  and said she probably won’t be moving. To Keith Ganatra, that's a common story. He owns the Del Monte Market and has been talking to his customers a lot this week. He said many are busy working on their properties, because they want to stay in this corner of the Valley. He gets it.

"You are in the country, but still, you know, the downtown is just 10 minutes away," Ganatra said. "And we just moved here about two years ago, and we love it."

Ganatra’s home, by the way, was not harmed by either of the floods. But this week, business at  his shop has been slow. 

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.