Hundreds of hotel guests are trappedThey were able to get out after crews cleared a path through rocks and mud, but roads damaged by flood waters or choked with debris are expected to remain closed until next week, officials said Saturday.
The National Park Service said Navy helicopters and California Highway Patrols were conducting aerial searches in remote areas for stuck vehicles, but found none. However, it could take days to assess the damage – the park near the California-Nevada state line has more than 1,000 miles of road across 3.4 million acres.
No injuries were reported as a result of Friday’s record-breaking rain. The park withstood 1.46 inches of rain in the Furness Creek area. That’s about 75% of what the area typically gets in a year, and more than ever recorded for the entire month of August.
Park officials said that since 1936, the only day that saw more rain was April 15, 1988, when 1.47 inches fell.
Nikki Jones, a restaurant worker who lives in a hotel with her fellow employees, said it was raining when she left for breakfast Friday morning. By the time she returned, the accumulated water quickly reached the entrance to the room.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Jones said. “I’ve never seen water rise so fast in my life.”
Fearing that water would reach their room on the ground floor, Jones and her friends laid their luggage on the beds and used towels at the bottom of the doorways to prevent the water from flowing. For about two hours, they wondered if they would be drowned in the flood.
“People around me were saying they had never seen anything this bad — and they had worked here for a while,” Jones said.
While their room was salvaged, five or six other rooms in the hotel were flooded. The carpets in those rooms were later removed.
Most of the rain — just over an inch — came in epic downpours between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday, said John Adair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.
The floods “cut off access to and from Death Valley, washed away roads and created a lot of rubble,” Adair said.
Highway 190 — a major artery through the park — between Furnace Creek and Pahrump, Nevada, is expected to reopen by Tuesday, officials said.
Park staff stranded by closed roads are continuing to shelter in place, except for emergencies, officials said.
“The trees and entire rocks were washing away,” said John Cerlin, a photographer for an Arizona-based adventure company who witnessed the flooding while sitting on a hillside boulder, trying to capture images of lightning as the storm approached.
“The noise from some of the rocks coming off the mountain was incredible,” he said in a phone interview on Friday afternoon.
The water has receded in most areas, leaving behind a thick layer of mud and gravel. About 60 vehicles were partially buried in the mud and rubble. Several road damages were reported, and residential water lines were cut in the Cow Creek area of the park at multiple locations. About 20 palm trees fell on the road near one of the lodges, and some staff housing was damaged.
“With the intensity and widespread nature of this rain, it will take time for everything to rebuild and reopen,” Park Manager Mike Reynolds said in a statement.
The storm was followed by significant flooding earlier this week in the park 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Some roads were closed Monday after they were engulfed in mud and debris from torrential rains that swept through western Nevada and northern Arizona.
The Friday rains started around 2 a.m., according to Cerlin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been visiting the park since 2016.
“It was more extreme than anything I’d seen out there,” said Cerlin, principal guide for Incredible Weather Adventures who began chasing storms in Minnesota and the high plains in the 1990s.
“A lot of the washes were flowing several feet deep,” he said. “Maybe there were 3 or 4 feet of rock covering the road.”
Meanwhile, torrential rains flooded Las Vegas.
Several other national parks have experienced severe flooding this summer. In June, Yellowstone experiencedMuch of the park’s roads were washed away and tourists were forced to evacuate. .
The National Park Service said most of its properties and the surrounding towns have been affected by climate change — from sea level rise in Everglades, Florida to.
in another place,At the end of July. At least 35 people died, and hundreds lost their homes.