Moisture from Tropical Storm Octive led to destructive flooding across Arizona on October 2, 1983. Floodwaters that left 10 people dead or missing surged through normally bone-dry land, washing out bridges road and power forcing thousands from their homes, and turning a slice of desert Southwest into “a raging river”. Rivers swollen to record levels burst their banks amid heavy rains swallowing buildings and bridges causing millions of dollars in damage across a 200-mile swath of Arizona. Business districts and thousands of houses in Tucson, Clifton, Safford, Nagolas, and Marana were under several feet of water. A 4-foot high wall of water hit Tucson on as the Santa Cruz River crested closing all but one of the city’s bridges and knocking out major power lines to more than 20,000 homes and businesses. More than 4“ of rain fell in a 36-hour period. The peak flow estimated in the Santa Cruz River was 40,000. The greatest recorded previously, around 30,000 cfs or cubic feet per second, was in 1977. A 5- month-old, $500,000 office building was swept downstream when the banks of the Rillito River crumbled. Twenty-five miles downstream in Marana, the water spread out in a 3- mile swath, filling 100-foot-wide riverbed that usually stands dry. Clifton, about 100 miles northeast of Tucson on the San Francisco River, already had been hit so hard that there was little left to be damaged by further flooding. More than half the town been swept away, leaving the 4,200 residents without electricity, water, or phone service. Some businesses in downtown Clifton were under as much as 8 feet of water.
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