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Updated Aug 4, 2014 - 6:30 pm

Storm causes freeway closure, roof damage in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Storms that brought strong winds and rains to metropolitan Phoenix closed a section of freeway for eight hours, damaged the roof of an animal hospital and temporarily left thousands of homes without electricity across the state.

The roadway closure was prompted by a cable line that fell on the Loop 101 freeway around 7 p.m. Sunday and caused countless motorists to be backed up in traffic. The stretch of freeway reopened early Monday morning.

It made for an agonizing wait as cars backed up for miles and miles with nowhere to go. At first, people stood on their roofs in frustration, but drivers later embraced the ordeal and turned it into a festive occasion.

``By that time, people had realized nobody is going anywhere any time soon so we just camped out,'' said Jeannine Sander, 32, a medical imaging facility manager.

``It felt kind of block-partyish,'' said Jennifer Rojas, a 42-year-old human resources professional who was stuck in the traffic. ``People got out, people were playing hockey, people were talking to each other in different cars.''

Lake Havasu City experienced serious weather problems as well. Violent wind gusts toppled power lines and knocked out power to thousands of residents. About 35 power poles in Lake Havasu City snapped in half.

More than 14,000 homes in Lake Havasu City lost power for about six hours, said Bill DeJulio, senior director for the Mohave County area for Unisource, which provides power to 45,000 in the city. Power was restored to all but 150 customers Sunday night, DeJulio said.

Fire Chief Dennis Mueller said a downed power line struck a vehicle as it traveled on Highway 95 south of town, causing the car to overturn. The driver was not injured, Mueller said.

Mueller said washes in a hard-hit section of town were flowing like rivers and video of the storm sent in by residents captured powerful images of destruction.

``It showed power lines snapped, and it just looked like a twig in the wind. It just got snapped so fast,'' Mueller said.

The National Weather Service said Lake Havasu City received between a half inch and one inch of rain and winds that reached 35 mph. The city faces a 20 percent chance of storms Monday, but chances for rain decrease throughout the rest of the week.

In the Phoenix area, Tempe experienced four-tenths of an inch of rainfall within about 10 minutes and high winds that ripped off half of the roof at the VCA Tri City Animal Hospital and Acacia Cat Hospital.

Tempe fire spokesman Carlos Elzy says there were no people inside the hospital at the time and that the few animals that were inside weren't injured.

About 4,600 Salt River Project customers lost electricity, but as of Monday morning, power had been restored to all but about 65 customers.

Marvin Percha, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said another storm on Sunday dropped up to 2 inches of rain in the Wickenburg area.

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