Talking Stick Resort remains evacuated after outage; thousands without power across Valley

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Lightning strikes over Tempe Town Lake during a monsoon storm August 10, 2018.

Talking Stick Resort and Casino was evacuated early Saturday morning after an overnight storm caused a major power outage, officials said. 

Friday night’s storm and severe flooding caused the power to go out at the casino near Loop 101 and Talking Stick Way about 2 a.m., according to a statement from the company.

Talking Stick officials said customers and employees were evacuated after both the main and backup generators malfunctioned. 

A major poker tournament, the 14th annual Arizona State Poker Championship, was disrupted and postponed until Monday, event officials tweeted.

The five-day tournament attracts more than 1,000 players from around the world and has an estimated $1.5 million prize pool, the event website said.

Players said on social media they had to flee quickly, weren’t allowed back in their hotel rooms and did not get updates from the tournament or the resort for hours.

One woman said a flash flood overtook the parking lot.

“These desert storms are no joke,” she wrote.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Talking Stick officials said all guests are being located to other hotels for free. All reservations and scheduled events have been canceled for the time being. 

“The safety and comfort of our guests is top priority and we apologize for the inconvenience,” the statement said. “We are working through the impact of the storm as quickly as we can.”

Anyone who was evacuated with gaming chips can exchange them for cash once the casino reopens, according to the statement. Slot machine players who were unable to redeem slot tickets should contact a manager. 

Detective Joseph Orozco, a Salt River Police Department spokesman didn’t have an exact count of the number of people evacuated, but he said about 800 to 900 people are typically at the property at that time.

Monsoon shows its might: Severe thunderstorm rolls across Phoenix area

Officials were still working to determine exactly what happened, Orozco said. 

“The lights were out and the power was out,” Orozco said. “You don’t want to play with that in a building like that with so many people. We just wanted to make sure everyone is safe.”

Many of the evacuees gathered in nearby restaurants as they awaited information about when they would be able to return to the resort. Some guests were allowed to gather their belongings. 

Roughly 1,600 SRP customers across the Valley whose power was knocked out by the storm had it restored by Saturday evening, according to the company’s outage map.

In Goodyear, nearly 2,700 APS customers were still without power after lightning hit a transformer at a substation. Crews were working to restore power to the area.

This is a developing story. Check azcentral.com for updates.

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