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Lawsuit filed over Mesa neighborhood flooding

• AZCentral.Com

Nearly 100 Mesa residents whose homes were flooded after September's record downpour have filed a lawsuit against the city, state and Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, claims the agencies either knowingly or negligently used properties in the Emerald Acres area for "overflow and storage of storm water collected throughout the City of Mesa and a portion of U.S. Highway 60" after Sept. 8's record downpour.

Residents are seeking an injunction to prevent it from happening again.

The historic rainstorm slammed the Valley in the early-morning hours, stranding residents in their homes and cars as water rose throughout the region. By early afternoon, the rain had eased. But in Mesa, the mammoth Emerald Park retention basin had begun to overflow, flooding an elementary school and nearly 200 nearby homes.

"Defendants continued to cause or allow water to be diverted into Emerald Park even though they knew or should have known that there was no effective outlet for the water entering Emerald Park other than in and through the plaintiffs' ... homes and property," the residents' complaint says, asking that a judge intervene so properties won't again be inundated if a comparable storm hits.

One strategy could involve restricting the amount of water officials are allowed to pump into the Emerald Park basin, though the parameters of any injunction would be up to the presiding judge.

The city and ADOT, which operate separate but interrelated pieces of the area's drainage system, have maintained that the floods resulted from the sheer amount of rain in a short time. Typically, ADOT's flood-control canal and Mesa's retention basins act as relievers for each other, but that day, all parts of the system were overwhelmed, officials said.

Arthur Lyman, pushes a friend's baby, Alyssa Guarino,22 months, in a plastic pool down his flooded neighborhood at the intersection of E. Glade Ave. and S. Allen in Mesa, Tuesday, September 9, 2014. The area was inundated with water after the deluge on Monday. Wayne Guarino, Alyssa's uncle, third from left, and Michael Rodriguez, right, are in background. (Photo: Tom Tingle/The Republic)

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