Search ends for reported victims of Arizona flood

WENDEN, Ariz. — A day after a flash flood hammered this desert farming town, residents returned Monday to begin digging out amid toppled mobile homes and half-submerged cars while rescuers chased reports that several people were missing.

By day’s end, however, authorities called off an aerial search because they couldn’t confirm witness reports that two people were swept away, said Lt. Steve Biro, a spokesman for the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department.

Five others, all of them migrant workers, remained unaccounted for, but it was possible they’d just left the area and there was no indication they were caught in Sunday’s flash flood, said Sheriff’s Deputy Karen Harris.

As many as 2,000 migrant workers were in and around this western Arizona town of 1,200 for the harvest.

"They had helicopters rescuing people out of trees," said Randy Ussery, who had a foot of water in his home. "I had people banging on my door at five in the morning. We didn’t even know it was coming. There was no warning."

About 500 people were evacuated from Wenden and nearby Salome. About half were bused to a shelter at the high school in Parker, the county seat about 40 miles to the northwest, while the rest were staying with family and friends, said Sheriff’s Lt. Don Davis. At least 300 came from Wenden, where railroad tracks and a levee separate the north and south ends.

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