Green Valley, Sahuarita hit by powerful monsoon storm, thousands without power

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Thousands without power, dozens of power lines and trees down and damage across Southern Arizona as a powerful monsoon storm ripped through.

No doubt, it’s a busy day for Gabriel Felix, with Felix Landscaping and Maintenance LLC. When the storm started up Thursday night, he knew he would have an early day.

“I said, ‘you know what, I better get to bed because I know I’m going to be busy in the morning,’ but it was scary. It made everybody’s houses shake,” said Felix. “I’ve been here my whole life, 40 years, never seen a rainstorm like this one last night.”

He and his crew were clearing a tree that was across the road, blocking traffic and very large. They had to use a tractor to lift large chunks into a dump truck. Felix said it was the third one that day and certainly not the last one.

“The calls started coming in at 3:30, as soon as the storm hit, and first light we were out, and we’re going to be out until it gets dark,” said Felix.

One tree in a Green Valley neighborhood was completely uprooted and narrowly missed several houses. The exposed roots were taller than the nearby homes. Similar sights were all around the town and Sahuarita as trees, saguaros and more were toppled in the powerful winds. Dozens of power lines were downed in the storm, too. The Green Valley Fire District said they responded to three cars trapped by the live wires.

“They’re fine. We had crews that responded, obviously and had to assess to situation,” said L.T. Pratt, Green Valley Fire District. “If you don’t have to be on the road, if you don’t have to be out tonight, stay home.”

TEP says nearly 50 of these lines were blown over, prompting closures of Duval Mine Road and La Canada Drive while crews work to fix them. Nearly 20 transmitter lines and the entire substation are were down after the storms, according to TEP. It is damage Kevin Rogers came to see because it’s left him without power since 10 p.m. on Thursday. He is one of about 3,000 people who were without power for most Thursday night and Friday. Nearly 15,000 were initially without power.

“Right now, I’m just looking for ice and coolers so I won’t ruin my stuff in my refrigerator,” said Rogers.

TEP is handing out ice bags on the north side of the McDonalds off Continental Road in Green Valley. As of early Friday afternoon, they had given away more than 80 bags. They said they will be giving out the bags until all the power is back on, which could take a while due to the extensive damage.

“Because there’s infrastructure damage, it’s going to take us a while to get all the customers restored to power, but we’re hoping to have everyone restored except a few hundred people by tomorrow,” said Sherri Cadeaux with TEP. “We should have the majority those customers restored today, but there may only be a couple of hundred people without power tomorrow.”

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