Dramatic Rescues in Phoenix after Flash Flooding

Many motorists were stranded after roads flooded in pounding rainstorm.
12:53 | 08/19/14

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Transcript for Dramatic Rescues in Phoenix after Flash Flooding
More rain in Phoenix today in less than 24. Hours. Then in all last summer. And this is the result at least a dozen water rescues carried -- emergency teams throughout today some still ongoing in fact -- flash flooding this surging through. That region -- when I'm down Cutler in New York is still developing at this hour Arizona public safety officials have closed a fifteen mile stretch editors at seventeen. They are now re directing northbound traffic away from the worst of the flooding back toward higher ground in Phoenix. So for more on those rescue efforts and how -- response is going to want to bring ABC's out stone standing by our bureau in LA and -- and -- watching. This rescue by chopper -- on a -- some of the video some of the rescue on that but what do we know the latest those people that were inside from some of these -- Yeah -- just incredible pictures that we've been seeing coming in now all day to day for the last couple of hours especially. Earlier today there was a a big rainfall event that went through and then it calmed down a little bit it wasn't act this bad. Early on and then a another wave went through. And now we -- seeing these pictures of cars that are underwater of homes that are surrounded by water and people who need to be rescued -- then. To be on -- out of Gaza the I look at this video and I honestly cannot wrap my head around the fact that flash flooding. Happens this quickly announces that it ridiculous question to -- flash flooding but seriously to look at the water at that level outside of home. It really happens in only minutes. It dies it happens very very quickly and often times with a little warning it comes down so -- the rain we're talking two inches an hour in some cases. And these are areas where it has been incredibly drive for the last year -- two years in some cases so the ground is not ready to absorb all of this water it seems like. Okay there is a drought in the southwest we need this rain here in LA and Arizona as well. But when it comes down so hard and so fast it just cannot absorb that amount. And then you get the runoff that we're seeing here today. Of the streets that are flooded of the neighborhoods that are flooded and now fire crews are going in they're trying to rescue people out. Some of the problems north of Phoenix mainly a town called new river Arizona that's where the whole month has been surrounded by water. That's for firefighters been doing the rescues these pictures. Unbelievable these are live -- -- -- look at an aerial shot on -- some of this flash -- that just. Covered over highways has covered over roads and obviously overtaken some homes overtaken some trailers. -- support horses stuck on the bank there clearly without any place to go. As are a lot of people that have been either on their way to and from workers making their way around what do we know about numbers of rescue attempts. As of right now we understand there are three active rescues that are -- ongoing as we speak about a dozen people in total have been rescued that number will likely go -- That's a number that fire departments have been putting out saying about a dozen but. You like so many unfolding situation -- haven't had it a chance to really go and count in tally them up. And there are so many different fire departments that are involved here that number may very well go up we know that the one case of the home that we've been watching here right now. -- is in new river Arizona. There was a rescue of a minivan that happened a few minutes go a short time ago in -- Arizona where firefighters win and and rescued a woman out of a minivan that was completely surrounded by water so a lot of rescues going on right now they believe around a dozen in total but other a lot of people who don't have to be rescued. But their cars are stuck in water their homes are surrounded by water they self rescue they get themselves out but still very very scary for them. Alex he had mentioned that one rescue in new river and two women inside that house I wanna go back to that -- that we get scene there. You can see 01 of the rescuers coming down from the chopper. Making it written looks like kind of a hard landing on the roof with one of the life vests and then eventually shaming their way across the roof. Trying to then get the life as get that harnessed into the window. I mean it's only a matter of maybe three or four feet from the bottom of the window to the top of the water level right there. It's got to be a little hair raising when you're trying to move quickly but safely. It's fast moving water all the debris that's flying through there at the same time. They put those life -- on eventually get hauled out from the chopper and this thankfully. The reunion of safety as the UC a hug from those folks that risked their own safety to get -- that helicopter and pulled those two women from that house. Talk to me a little bit outsell about monsoon season is that a once a year occurrence does that happen -- off than just because it happens to be so dry right now in August. Well talking about the rescue -- Dan -- really shows you the training that these swift water rescue and firefighter crews go through to get people out. It seemed like he in this case of this home in new river that there was some improvising that went on that. You've got a home it's completely surrounded by water how were they going to get the life preservers. The life jackets down to the people who could only reach out of the window they eventually figured out the firefighter -- was on the -- how. He was going to do it and he got it down to them out of the monsoon season. Does happen in Arizona it happens in the southwest it's something that that folks live with. Where there can be heavy rains not typically -- is having. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Or simply because the fact for the growers -- so parched. That just the rainfall itself is the cause of all that. -- -- can be a little bit of both one you can just get the heavy rainfall that has nowhere to go away and and it goes in to any low lying areas so -- DH an area of a road a anywhere where it can pool. And then that's working cover roads that's where can -- -- cars. I cannot sell -- be that a lot of that Ron off that he is coming off the bay hills and is coming off -- the roads go into small bodies of water that then become very large bodies like. Drainage ditches and rivers we've seen some of that today -- rivers have gotten quite large and they've gone over flowed over roads. -- and then cars have had to be rescued one thing we have seen today to -- As something that -- fire crews would tell you never do a lot of cars trying to make their way through the water very very quickly. To try to get themselves or to get a body out that can be deadly it can be bad mistake to make. To try to to raced through water that is flowing and quite high it seems like most of those who tried -- -- they were in big pick up trucks and trucks have a different kinds and that they were successful but that can be -- deadly mistake if you -- an excellent point there in the at the thing. Suspect because the water is rushing through so rapidly you don't exactly know what you're stepping -- you know -- going to be walking on concrete. If it's simply a road or highway that's is being covered over or if you're walking into a ditch if -- walk into some area. That you potentially he could trap to mean. You see the intensity. Some of that water pushing some of those vehicles and those huge branches from trees that have been knocked down from that. What then is the forecast then for the afternoon and into the evening. Well we -- it's going to head to come down quite a bit forecasters are saying it should tonight tonight should actually be a pretty nice evening around Phoenix the first wave that went. Through earlier today that we were talking about just a minute ago. Went through early this morning -- in the in the evening at 6:7 o'clock -- hours of the morning. That's fairly early to get the monsoon moisture in Arizona and in Phoenix typically later in the day. But they got an early they got a break and then this second wave went through and and we're seeing that the impact of that right now forecasters say it should taper off tonight. And -- down there could be more tomorrow. But it should come down that for tonight to let folks kind of and get there their wits about them again and -- -- two clean everything up. Yeah which is obviously what everyone is going to redeem especially after the harrowing experiences of going through these kinds of rescues -- -- it really is unbelievable. To look at this video you don't pushing for a lot of these rescuers they don't exactly know if these cars are -- -- -- if there's someone that's still inside. You know we get this clear vantage point from this helicopter. And at the same time if you put yourself in that rescuers positioned. And your repelling down. Over this rushing water not know exactly what you're gonna find inside it is amazing then that the kind of of course that you have to have. To be able to pull off these kinds of rescues but as you pointed out Alex. These folks are unfortunately experienced in this they had to deal with this for years for years before. Yeah and it not only courage but we're talking training everything that they go through day to get ready for -- this and the swift water rescue teams that. Every fire department has every large fire department across the country and that definitely in Phoenix they have. Here in LA there is there are a number of swift water rescue teams that. Austin when it's rainy season are going in in doing exactly this they go on with the helicopters a train train train. And they're able to successfully pull off these rescues that we're seeing today. Tied to the -- the layperson those of us watching it. It looks incredible that they can do this and that they would know -- but this is what they train for going in with that shopper. Going down from -- the helicopter and pulling the people out. That's what they've done successfully today so Alex I know that this is sort of in the outskirts of Phoenix -- what do we know about air travel based on sort of these flash -- that are popping up. You know I haven't checked to see if there are any delays it wouldn't surprise me because there are so many thunderstorms had better in the area -- -- today but it's something that their pilots flying in and out of Phoenix definitely know about they deal with as they do with and airports across the west against thunderstorms but it could very well delay air travel today. Especially in -- Phoenix which is Hobbs for US Airways now American Airlines as they come together. Silly it could cause some delays it. Just kind of puts you on -- as you're looking at this video Alex I don't know if you have access to this as well but -- -- looking at right now. A school bus that is going through some of those water covered highways and roads. And again you just don't know the structure that your driving under that -- traveling over soon. I'm -- -- -- they somehow get clearance from from some of the authorities that are on the ground there. To be able to make some kind of passage otherwise I mean you're creating a major commuting. Headache -- -- held cell and then that somebody's telling them it's safe go through it not very often that they an official would tell you it's located drive through something like that but. You know a lot of folks look at it and say it doesn't look that bad I can make it but that's when that is something as large as -- can be washed away. Again likely we haven't seen that today but it is very very dangerous to be driving through those waters and especially for people who don't deal with that very often and in Arizona does get it relatively often. But it soaks are in from out of town and whatnot you look at that you -- now just turn around and go the other way because I could be deadly. I think what is probably the most surprising about this is this is the speed at which that and rain falls. Increase these kinds of huge -- -- That simply -- -- -- I mean I was speaking with my producer I've never gone through something like this before and I really was asking -- -- legitimacy. How can you be so you know how how can you don't be caught off guard so quickly but when the rain does get that rapidly and that heart in the grounds that parched. It has no place to go but form its -- river. -- very much on it it there's no -- -- can gal and that if you can be driving in this is well in the rain is coming down so hard we're talking two inches an hour. It comes down so hard that your windshield wipers cannot keep up. I've been through some in Arizona when your driving -- have to pull over because -- it is so hard to see out of that the windshield and and you really can't tell where you're going. But all of that water that's coming down -- has to go somewhere. -- and it it will go away into the drainage ditches -- and build up from -- it stays on the roads. -- it's something -- -- extremely dangerous and that's what we're witnessing here today ABC's Johnstone find the very latest from our bureau in Los Angeles Alex thank you for that appreciate it as always. And of course you can keep up with the -- real time by downloading the ABC news apps starring the -- for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm down -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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