The Stale Mess: Residents reeling after Tempe hit by catastrophic mesquite bean pod storm

Locals try to put the pieces back together after millions in damage to infrastructure and thousands displaced

Saturday saw the largest mesquite bean pod storm in Tempe’s history, and longtime residents and students are at a loss for what to do next. 

Over the weekend, The Stale Mess correspondents reported live from the eye of the storm. Eyewitnesses described the situation as truly apocalyptic. The existential challenge this storm has posed to the city’s collective psyche remains after the weekend, with survivors using phrases like “crunchy death from the sky” and “basically a hail storm out of hell.”

“It was as though the mesquite trees around the city came alive, growing a thousand feet tall and smiting us for our desert city’s disregard for Mother Nature,” Shelley, a visibly disturbed resident, said when describing the storm after the fact. “It was when the wind kicked up and started throwing the bean pods through the windows of my home that I knew we had angered God. By the evening, our house was nowhere to be found.”

With over $100,000,000 in damage to buildings, roads and power infrastructure, many have been forced to take shelter in designated facilities. Some residents and students are living in temporary shelter at Hayden Library on ASU’s campus.

“This has got to be the only imaginable circumstance when it’s convenient to have an underground library,” said Carl, a student whose dorm building was wiped off the face of earth by a monsoon of furious, hateful bean pods. 

Since Saturday when unexpected visitors started pouring into the mysterious underground complex to avoid the lava-hot bean pod flurry, there have been more than a few disappearances. 

“The thing most people don’t realize about (Hayden Library) is that we actually don’t know how old this place is or how it got here,” Sarah, an assistant librarian, said. “The original settlers arrived in Tempe to find that sort of nipple-looking thing up there, and they decided to use it as a library for the campus because it was already here. I mean, there are a lot of unexplored corridors. I don’t think anybody really knows how deep this thing goes.” 

Other residents have turned to unofficial shelter options. A group of displaced anarchists has been using an unfinished luxury apartment development on University Drive as a home in the interim.

Always a community to find the silver lining in even the most horrific disasters, these libertarian-minded Tempe natives’ spirits are unbreakable.

“Luckily the city doesn’t have the resources to evict us from this place,” one unnamed squatter said. “It’s ironic too. I’m from the Maple-Ash neighborhood. Just a week ago at our community action/Antifa chapter meeting, we were all griping about how this high rise development would never benefit the local community.”

“Look at us now,” another squatter said with a contented smile from across a trash can fire. “Nothing feels better than beating the man.” 

In the meantime, the city is still waiting for the governor’s reaction. Looting is severe, and there is strong talk of bringing in the National Guard. The governor now faces the crucial decision of whether to start planning a costly reconstruction effort or to just purge this burning cesspool out of existence once and for all.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.


Reach the columnist at parker.shea@asu.edu or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

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