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Updated Aug 20, 2014 - 3:12 pm

Residents start cleanup after flash floods ravage area north of Phoenix

Jessica Cox, co-owner of Cox Cactus Farm, tries to save a damaged plant in the mess of mud-covered plants left after nearby Skunk Creek flooded out as strong storms moved through wiping out $1.5 to $2 million of the nursery inventory, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX -- A day after flash floods forced partial closure of some Valley highways, the roadways were open to traffic Wednesday and the weather was calm.

Residents began the difficult task of cleaning up and regrouping.

State Route 74 between Interstate 17 and Lake Pleasant Parkway and Loop 303 between I-17 and Lake Pleasant Parkway were cleared for traffic late Tuesday, several hours after flash floods and runoff water overtook parts of the roadways and surrounding areas.

Rain fell hard and fast in the north Valley on Tuesday and homes were flooded and vehicles were swept away in New River. Rock slides a little farther north affected other cities along I-17.

More than eight inches of rain had fallen by midday, most of it in a short period. Another round of storms hit in the evening.

Kendra Robinson of New River said the storm was terrifying.

"I feel bad for the people who lost homes and had their cars swept away. People had animals swept away. How do you deal with something like that.

"Don't get me wrong, I love the rain and we needed it, but this was too much rain to wrap our heads around."

Marcia Fuller, another New River resident, told ABC News the rush of water knocked her home off its foundation and swept away a car. The family's dogs and horses haven't been seen since the flooding. Water in the New River wash reached 10 feet deep and stretched at least 100 yards across.

The aftermath has drawn the curious to New River, staring at the remaining water in the wash and surveying the damage. At Cox Cactus Farm, workers gathered and discarded flooded plants while tractors scooped up dirt at the nursery that caters to landscapers, resorts and golf courses.

Co-owner Jessica Cox said the farm, near 15th Avenue and Desert Hills Road in Anthem, lost between $1.5 million and $2 million worth of inventory and estimated it will take two years to fully recover from the storm.

"It was a long road these past three years," she said. "We worked our tails off. We will do it again."

KTAR's Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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