SAFFORD – The storm that inundated the Safford area late Saturday night and early Sunday morning has done something legal challengers and hardened criminals have’t been able to do – displace Graham County Attorney Kenny Angle and his office.
The unprecedented storm that caused water and hail damage throughout the city can chalk up the Graham County Courthouse’s basement as one of its victims.
The County Attorney’s Office is located in the basement of the Graham County Courthouse, which, to the best of anybody’s knowledge has never flooded . . . until now.
“We’ve never had it flood before as far as I know,” Angle said.
Angle described the office as having “inches” of water throughout and that the smell was unbelievably bad.
Disaster Masters Restoration has been working overtime on cleaning up the County Attorney’s Office, but until it does so, the entire office has been temporarily relocated to an upstairs conference room of the Graham County Health Department building. A timetable as to when the attorneys, secretaries and Victim’s Witness employees are set to return to their office is not known at this time. Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson has been on vacation for the week.
Cause of storm revealed
At the Safford City Council’s Monday night meeting, Safford Mayor Chris Gibbs said he spoke with a representative of the National Weather Service who came to town to investigate the phenomena. He said the storm track was completely unpredictable.
The storm dumped up to 6 inches of rain in a few hours in some parts of the city and just as much hail.
“He had no idea it would do what it did,” Gibbs said. “The air currents, which were full of moisture, shot up off Mount Graham to about 80,000 feet, froze and dropped. And that’s where we got all that hail from.”
Gibbs described the storm as something the Gila Valley had never seen before and praised the response from the city and its residents.
“I am told that there is no one living in this Valley who has seen a storm like that before here,” Gibbs said. “You might call it a 500-year flood; you might call it a 1,000-year flood. It was a lot of water coming downhill fast.”
Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman told Gila Valley Central that even though there was little to no warning, the city enacted its emergency operation plan and that all city staff did their job very well, ensuring there were no injuries or deaths.
“It was a cataclysmic event,” Brugman said. “We had an unusual amount of vehicular traffic at that time, possibly due to the fair. We had people who were still out and about; they had been in some of the area bars and were clearing out at 2 o’clock in the morning. Our first priority was the preservation of life and to keep people from being injured.
The city’s emergency operation plan lists priorities as the preservation of life, the preservation of property and then keeping the peace.
By Sunday morning, the American Red Cross was available because the police had alerted them the previous night and there was housing available for people if necessary, but nobody was displaced due to the storm, according to Brugman.
Police issue caution utilizing repair services
Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman has issued a press release advising caution to residents who are looking to repair property caused by flood or hail damage.
“With the news spreading of the damage that many residents face due to the storm, we have seen an influx of individuals in town offering to provide repair services,” Brugman wrote. “We encourage residents to either use someone that they know and trust or exercise due diligence in who is selected to perform the work. We suggest a call to the Arizona Registrar of contractors and/or the Better Business Bureau.”
Additional information can be found at the city of Safford website at http://www.cityofsafford.us. or contact Safford City Hall at 432-4202.