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Flooding closes Stone underpass

Flooding closes Stone underpass
Posted at 9:35 AM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 21:13:49-04

Crews have shut down the Stone underpass due to flooding Tuesday.

Craig Sumberg's Volvo was stuck underneath the water for most of the day. Sumberg has lived in Tucson for about 10 years and has experienced heavy rains in the past.

Around 8:30 this morning he says he was heading to work, driving south on Stone Avenue. Sumberg says there were some flooded patches along Stone, and when he approached the underpass it appeared to be just a puddle

"So I went through the puddle, and when I got to the other side the engine died and he couldn't get it started," Sumberg said.

"It wasn't a matter of trying to get through 6 feet of water, which would be very stupid," Sumberg said. "It was trying to get through a little  bit of water, and the engine just dying and getting stuck in the under pass."

When he realized the car was stalled, Sumberg got out of the car and a city worker approached him and told him to call 911. When the rain really started coming down, the car became submerged. Crews towed it out around 1:30 p.m.

On Tuesday the Tucson Fire Department responded to about 45 calls of cars being stuck in water. 

Mike Graham, a spokesperson for TDOT, says the Stone Avenue underpass historically floods because it is in a low-lying area and water from the surrounding streets pours into it.

"We got hit so hard with this storm this morning, it filled the underpass very quickly," Graham said. "The submerged pumps that are in the underpass, they kicked on and they're working, but they couldn't keep up with the amount of water that's in the underpass."

Crews with the Tucson Department of Transportation spent the day pumping the water into a nearby drain where it will eventually end up in the Santa Cruz.

Graham says next year they city will begin a project to build underground storm drain systems north of 6th Street that will help alleviate some flooding in the area.