Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, August 18, 2008

Flood Strands Tourists, Destroys Trails in Havasu, Grand Canyon

Tourists and many residents have been evacuated from the popular Havasu Falls area in the Grand Canyon, after heavy rains caused a dam breech and flooded the area. Many trails have been destroyed and the campground was flooded. The Arizona Republic has this news report. Below are excerpts:

About 400 people were evacuated Sunday, including tourists and some of the 400 members of the Havasupai Tribe who live in Supai, located about 250 miles northwest of Phoenix, north of Seligman. The village is in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon.

By midnight Saturday, (Warren ) Youngman said, the waters "looked bad." In the next few hours, heavy rains pounded the Redlands Dam south of Supai, causing a breach and waters to rise.

Youngman said an unknown number of bridges and three homes along the Havasu Creek were swept away by 3 a.m., but no injuries were reported. Evacuation orders were made official by 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Emily Gerlick, 23, of Phoenix, was with a group of five campers who were flown out early Sunday. She said she woke up around 2:30 a.m. to find water surrounding her tent at the popular Supai Campground, near the picturesque Mooney, Havasu and Navajo falls.
At 4:30 a.m., campers in the area were told they had 10 minutes to gather their belongings and return to Supai, where they were flown out in a Blackhawk helicopter.

The water in the canyon "was rushing and raging," Gerlick said. "It sounded like a freight train."

Another camper, Kyle Jones, 24, from Las Vegas, said members of the tribe from Supai were instrumental in getting people safely out. They strung up rope that evacuees could hold on to as they made their way across the water.

"The campsite had become an island," Jones said.

As much as 8 inches of rain had fallen since Friday, causing trouble even before the dam burst. A private boating party of 16 people was stranded on a ledge at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River on Saturday night, after floodwaters carried their rafts away, Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said.

The boaters were found uninjured and were rescued.

Read the entire article.

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