by Cole Lauterbach
Parts of a small town in Greenlee County are underwater and largely vacant after heavy monsoon rains caused the Gila River to overflow into flood-prone areas.
The town of Duncan, Arizona, saw an emergency mass evacuation order early Monday morning after parts of the river spilled into State Route 70 in the center of town.
Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman David Woodfill confirmed the closures on State Route 70 through Duncan with The Center Square Monday morning.
“The highway is closed at milepost 378. There is no estimated time to reopen. ADOT urges motorists not to drive into standing water. Instead, drivers should delay travel or consider taking an alternate route.”
Woodfill advises residents to check out az511.gov and the AZ 511 app to stay updated.
The National Weather Service issued a flood warning update at 10:30 a.m. Monday, advising motorists to turn around if they’re driving in that area and see standing water.
The Duncan Valley Rural Fire District announced the mass evacuation order for part of the town at approximately 5:30 a.m. Monday morning.
“At approximately 4:30 this morning, the water levels of the Gila River reached a point where water began to spill into portions of Duncan,” the department said in a Facebook post. “At that time, the Fire District was requested to assist in an evacuation of the areas in the flood plane, east of the Ranch House.”
The water level at the bridge in town was more than 22 feet, which the fire department said classified as a major flood stage.
The Greenlee County Fairgrounds, located just northeast of the flooded areas, has been designated as an evacuation center.
The town is likely to see more rain in the coming days, as the National Weather Service forecast for Duncan shows storms likely Monday evening and Tuesday.
– – –
Cole Lauterbach is a managing editor for The Center Square covering the western United States. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.
Photo “Gila River” by USGS.