Record Arizona rainfall shuts roads; 1 killed in flooding

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(CNN) — Arizona’s governor declared a statewide emergency Monday as record-setting rains turned roadways into rivers and forced some schools to shut down.

A woman was killed after her car was submerged in floodwaters, the Tucson Fire Department said. Rescuers were unable to reach the vehicle in time.

“Within a minute of us getting there, the car washed away,” Capt. Barrett Baker told CNN. The waters were up to 12 feet deep, he said, and swept the car for several blocks.

In Phoenix, the flooding left morning commuters stranded on Interstate 10, CNN affiliate KTVK reported.

“This rain is coming down so hard you can’t even see to drive, not to mention the thunder and lightning right now,” KTVK reporter Jill Galus said in a Twitter post early Monday morning.

Using the Twitter hashtag #TurnAroundDontDrown, Gov. Jan Brewer’s office warned motorists to stay off the streets and said non-essential state employees should remain at home.

By mid-morning Tuesday, the National Weather Service said 2.96 inches of rain had fallen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, breaking the record of the largest amount of rain to fall in a single calendar day. The airport remained open but fights were delayed by the weather.

The rainfall total in just one day was more than the average amount of rain the area typically sees during its rainy season, officials said.

Videos and photographs from CNN affiliates showed cars submerged in fast-moving floodwaters.

At least 5,000 customers are without power due to flooding and storms in the Phoenix metro area, and the number is expected to grow, Arizona Public Service spokesman Steve Gotfried said.

The Roosevelt School District called off classes “due to the heavy rains and low visibility as a result of fog,” officials said in a Facebook post.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton declared a state of emergency and said his city was facing a historic amount of rain. Police and fire dispatchers fielded thousands of calls as the storm hit, officials said.

“I am confident as mayor that all the appropriate steps have been taken, are being taken right now and will be taken,” Stanton told reporters. “Obviously, we’re monitoring the weather very, very closely.”

By Catherine E. Shoichet, John Fricke and Amanda Watts

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