On Sunday, July 8, about 9 p.m., Buckeye was hit hard by a major monsoon. High winds, estimated at more than 70 mph, and heavy rain killed power to more than 14,000 residents because of downed power lines and trees. Traffic signals were also out.
The police and fire departments were flooded with service calls almost immediately. Because the power was out at the police dispatch center downtown, operations were moved to police headquarters at Yuma and Dean. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office graciously took the city’s 9-1-1 calls. Buckeye Police also acted quickly and pushed out alternative phone numbers for nonemergency calls because all city phone lines were out as well.
By 11 p.m., public works crews were on scene assisting with traffic control, assessing damage to the city’s streets and removing debris. In addition, water service crews were dispatched to ensure the backup generators throughout the drinking water distribution system were working properly.
Fire Chief Bob Costello, who is also the city’s emergency management coordinator, worked with Arizona Public Service and informed city management of the situation and the impacts it would have on our residents and city business.
APS immediately provided timely and continuous details about the storm to city staff. They estimated more than 65 power poles in the city were lost. Within 90 minutes after the storm passed, seven of their 16 crews were in Buckeye working hard to restore power to residents. These crews were away from their families for more than 48 hours to help restore power.
At 2:30 a.m. Monday, July 9, acting City Manager James Shano sent his first email update to me and the City Council on the status of the power outage.
By 5 a.m., most city staff were coordinating efforts to ensure residents could still receive some level of service. Community services quickly made the decision to open the Coyote Branch Library at 8 a.m., three hours early, so residents could have a place to go.
The Coyote Library also became the location for APS’ cooling station, where residents could pick up ice and dry ice to keep their perishable food fresh. They also provided water and sports drinks to keep everyone hydrated. The Red Cross set up inside the Coyote Library to assist residents.
Thankfully, power to most city buildings was restored a little after 9 a.m. and the city was back in business by 10:30 a.m. Community services made sure residents who participate in the city’s home-delivered meals program received their meals on time, and that afternoon classes and programs went on as scheduled. Public works crews continued to clean up the storm damage.
From the early morning hours until after 8 p.m., every city department was in constant communication with each other and assisting each other.
As new information developed, it was shared with residents on the city’s various social media channels and website. The details were passed on to me and City Council through email updates.
The City Council and I were so impressed with how well we were kept informed as the incident developed, and also over the next 24 hours as staff responded to the aftermath. I was elated to see how well city staff worked together throughout the ordeal.
The city cannot control when and where Mother Nature will strike, or what devastation is left behind, but we can control how we respond to these situations. I was so impressed with the professionalism of city staff and how they handled this emergency. Every employee stepped up for the benefit of our residents.
This is just one more reason Buckeye is the fifth fastest-growing city in the country. Not only is it a great place to live and raise a family, but we also provide outstanding service to our residents.
Thanks to every city employee who worked tirelessly through this ordeal.