An earthen dam broke near the Grand Canyon early Sunday after heavy rains that forced officials to pluck hundreds of residents and campers from the gorge by helicopter. A private boating party of 16 people was stranded on a ledge at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River after flood waters carried their rafts away.About 50 tourists and Havasupai Tribe members had to spend the night in a shelter after being rescued by helicopter from flash flooding that gushed through a gorge off the side of the Grand Canyon.
Some people who were believed to be in the side canyon were unaccounted for after the weekend flooding. No injuries had been reported.
Rescuers were evaluating weather conditions and the level of flooding Monday before deciding when they could safely resume air evacuations, officials said.
A shelter set up in a gymnasium in Peach Springs held about 50 evacuees early Monday, and American Red Cross representatives were making preparations for the possibility that more could be brought in, Red Cross spokeswoman Tracey Kiest said Monday. She said the shelter would stay open as long as it was needed.
Mimi Mills said she and 15 other people were stranded along Havasu Creek when the flood washed away their river rafts on Saturday. They had moored the rafts while they went on a day hike up the creek on the 12th day of a 220-mile raft trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park.
“It was definitely frightening, and there was a lot of ‘Whoa, what are we going to do next and what’s the morning going to bring?” said Mills, 42, of Nevada City, Calif.
No park roads or facilities were damaged, the park remains open and fully operational. For more information on the effects of this flood in Grand Canyon National Park, contact the Public Affairs Office at 928-638-7958. For information on continuing efforts to aid those affected by the flood within Havasu Canyon and Supai Village, contact the Incident Information Center at 928-679-4161. If you are checking on family members with permits to float the river or backpack in the backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park, please contact Grand Canyon’s river information line at 928-638-7884.
She said the group took shelter under an overhang for the night, but had to scramble up a cliff when another flash flood occurred in the middle of the night.
“I woke up to people yelling, ‘We’ve got to get out of here!’” she said. “We booked it up a cliff in 10 seconds, and we just saw this massive rush of water rage down the creek side.”
They were rescued by helicopter Sunday morning.
Supai Canyon Evacuation Completed
The eleven individuals previously reported missing in the Supai Canyon flood area have been located and all are safe. As a precaution, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office officials are currently crosschecking information with those who were evacuated and those who left the area through the exit checkpoint over the past few days. As of yesterday, approximately 426 people had been evacuated by helicopter from the canyon. No fatalities or serious injuries resulting from this incident have been reported to the sheriff’s office. Some residents of the Supai Village chose not to be evacuated and remained in the canyon. On Monday, a flyover was conducted and officials found no one in need of assistance. Water levels in the area are still too high to conduct an extensive ground search, but search and rescue personnel from several agencies plan to do a more extensive search when the water levels subside. The Red Cross reception center housed eight residents of Supai Canyon on Monday evening. Another sixteen elders are staying at a local lodge and the Red Cross is providing meals for them. All of the evacuated tourists have left the area. Supai Canyon residents should be able to return to their homes today. All lifeline systems are currently operating in the canyon, including water, power and telephone services. The Hualapai Tribe has received three truckloads of donated supplies from St. Mary’s Food Bank and the National Relief Charities. Items include meal kits, blankets, water, Gatorade and hygiene products.