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Suburban Phoenix neighborhood submerged by flood after storm, could take weeks to recover

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MESA, Arizona — A Mesa neighborhood remained submerged in floodwaters Tuesday after a record-setting storm walloped the region and forced some residents to fortify homes with sandbags and wade through knee-high water to get in and out of the swamped area.

Cactuses were half-submerged, and only the tops of fire hydrants were visible in the standing water that covered streets and sidewalks in the neighborhood.

A father pulled his daughter and dog in a baby pool. Owners of pickup trucks capable of navigating the water ferried residents to and from grocery stories. Residents cheered when a fire truck arrived to help pump out the water.

"We've never seen this," said resident Greg Montierth. "Arizona deals with sand and cactus and heat. We're not set up for it."

Mesa recorded 4.41 inches of rain on Monday — a single-day record — as the remnants of Hurricane Norbert rolled through Arizona and caused flash flooding across the state. Two people died before the storm moved into Nevada and Utah and caused considerable damage.

PHOTO: A driver tries to navigate a severely flooded street as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A driver tries to navigate a severely flooded street as heavy rains pour down Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. Storms that flooded several Phoenix-area freeways and numerous local streets during the Monday morning commute set an all-time record for rainfall in Phoenix in a single day. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Mesa spokesman Steven Wright said it might take up to two weeks for the city to recover.

Up to 400 homes still were without electricity after crews disconnected power to submerged transformers Monday.

Wright said power was starting to come back on to some homes Tuesday evening as water was being pumped out of the affected areas. Retention basins and channels along the U.S. 60 were at or over capacity after Monday's record rainfall.

"We've seen significant improvement," Wright said. "We brought in huge industrial pumps and a ton of resources and we're seeing the water recede now."

Wright said 100 to 125 homes still were affected by the floodwaters, but most homeowners were staying put and not going to shelters set up for voluntary evacuees.

Adding to the misery in the neighborhood near U.S. 60 is the fact that residents don't have flood insurance because it is not in a flood zone.

"It's not something you're offered. When you buy a house, you sign your paperwork for the mortgage and when they say insurance, they look at flood insurance, you're not in a flood zone, you don't buy flood insurance," said Montierth. "Why spend money on something that's never supposed to happen?"

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Video:
PHOTO: Seasonal monsoon moisture combined with the remnants of Tropical Storm Norbert to dump rain throughout the Southwest on Monday. Residents were still dealing with heavy flooding especially in the Arizona neighborhood of Mesa on Tuesday. (Sept. 9)
Seasonal monsoon moisture combined with the remnants of Tropical Storm Norbert to dump rain throughout the Southwest on Monday. Residents were still dealing with heavy flooding especially in the Arizona neighborhood of Mesa on Tuesday. (Sept. 9)
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