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Hundreds evacuated from Grand Canyon after flooding

 
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mike
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Joined: 30 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: 8/17/2008, 2:01 pm    Post subject: Hundreds evacuated from Grand Canyon after flooding Reply to topic Reply with quote

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Hundreds evacuated from Grand Canyon after flooding

Rains flooded the tiny village of the Havasupai tribe on the floor of the Grand Canyon, prompting an evacuation of tribal members, hikers and campers Sunday morning.

Supai Village is located 438 miles northwest of Phoenix, north of Seligman.

Warren Youngman, assistant special agent in charge with the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, said water breached the dam south of the village after heavy rains Sunday, and everyone was ordered to evacuate the canyon for safety reasons.

No injuries have been reported but the situation is serious enough to concern Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie, Youngman said.

There is no estimated time when the evacuation will be complete.

Youngman said there are 300 tribal members but did not know how many hikers and visitors were in the Canyon. The campground is about seven miles past Supai Village, near picturesque Mooney, Havasu and Navajo falls.

A lodge official said there were about 200 tourists.

Clair Ketchum, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, reported the Redlands Dam, about 45 to 50 miles south of the Havasupai Reservation, had breached.

"We've had two days of very heavy rains from thunderstorms (that) dropped significant moisture over that area; that's what caused the dam to become overtopped and breached," Ketchum said. "More rain . . . (is expected) later on this afternoon. (We expect) development of showers over northwest moving southeast over the area."

The hike down to the falls is a hiker's paradise and is eight miles from the hilltop to the village. The campgrounds are located two to five miles beyond the village.


http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/08/17/20080817supai0817online.html
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azbackpackr
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Joined: 31 Dec 2005
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Location: Needles CA

PostPosted: 8/17/2008, 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

One time I was down there and asked one of the tribal members what it was like during the floods. She was pretty blase about it. It happens every year, she said, winter and summer. The canyon fills with muddy running water from one side to the other, she said. Everyone who lives there knows exactly where high ground is to be found.

Anyone notice the nice new rec center they've built in Supai? It is very high off the ground. Presumably it is anchored to the ground in some way, also. One would hope.
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wanderingsoul





Joined: 19 Jul 2004
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Location: Gilbert AZ

PostPosted: 8/17/2008, 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Just saw this on the news. Thought I remembered someone posting here they were heading that way, thought it was this weekend too. Hope they didn't get caught up in the mess. News said hiker/campers were evacuated and lost most all of their gear. Sounded a little dicey down there this weekend.
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Arizonaheat
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Joined: 04 Jan 2003
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Location: Mesa, AZ

PostPosted: 8/17/2008, 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Here is the story off Yahoo.

Grand Canyon floods breach dam, force evacuations By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer
38 minutes ago



Days of heavy rains around the Grand Canyon caused an earthen dam to fail Sunday and created flooding that forced helicopters to pluck hundreds of residents and campers from the gorge. No injuries were immediately reported.

The failure of the Redlands Dam caused some flooding in Supai, a village on a canyon floor where about 400 members of the Havasupai tribe live, said Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge. The current floods and potential for more required the evacuations, she said.

No structures were damaged after the dam failed about 45 miles upstream from Supai, but some hiking trails and footbridges were washed out, she said. Trees were uprooted, the National Weather Service said.

Nearly 80 people had evacuated as of early Sunday evening, said Red Cross spokeswoman Tracey Kiest. Evacuations were still in progress.

As much as 8 inches of rain since Friday caused 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 flood waters carried their rafts away, Oltrogge said.

The boaters were found uninjured and were being rescued from the Grand Canyon, whose floor is unreachable in many places except by helicopter.

Rescuers were trying to find visitors staying at the Supai Campground and escort them to safety, Oltrogge said.

Evacuees were being flown to a parking area 8 miles from Supai and then, if needed, bused to a Red Cross shelter in Peach Springs, about 60 miles southwest of Supai, the spokeswoman said.

The area got 3 to 6 inches of ran Friday and Saturday and got about 2 more on Sunday, said Daryl Onton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff.

"That's all it took just a few days of very heavy thunderstorms," he said.

Supai is on Havasu and Cataract creeks about 30 miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village, a popular tourist area on the south rim. Havasu Creek feeds the Colorado, which runs the length of the canyon.

The flooding came on a weekend during the busy summer tourist season, when thousands of visitors a day flock to the canyon for spectacular views, hikes or to raft its whitewater.

The helicopters lifting residents out were from the National Park Service, the National Guard and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Oltrogge said.

In 2001, flooding near Supai swept a 2-year-old boy and his parents to their deaths while they were hiking.

The Grand Canyon has been the traditional home of the Havasupai for centuries.
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Suz





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PostPosted: 8/17/2008, 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

WOW! Sounds like a wild time for those rafters and campers. I'm sure the pictures will be amazing.
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GeorgAz





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PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Didn't that happen about 15- 20 years ago or so? I vaguely recall it was after our first trek and campout down there.
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sacred_datura





Joined: 18 Apr 2007
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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I have a camp site reserved for next month. I wonder how long it will take to get the campgrounds reopened?
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SkyIslandHiker





Joined: 02 Dec 2006
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Location: Sahuarita (Tucson) AZ

PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

GeorgAz wrote:
Didn't that happen about 15- 20 years ago or so? I vaguely recall it was after our first trek and campout down there.


August 1997 to be exact:
http://www.grandcanyontreks.org/supai3.htm
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azbackpackr
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Joined: 31 Dec 2005
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Location: Needles CA

PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

On TV today they said there had been three super big floods in the past 30 years, but that the biggest one anyone has recorded was likely in 1910. I think 1993 was one of the years. Keep in mind they have floods every year, with enough water to overrun the campground. A tribal member told me there will often be water all the way across the Supai village area, from one canyon wall to the other.
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Nighthiker





Joined: 05 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wonder about their gear. they usually make you leave it behind if they fly you out.
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Shawn
I'll sell you map to Lost Dutchman mine!




Joined: 03 Jan 2003
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Location: Ahwatukee, AZ

PostPosted: 8/18/2008, 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

There is evidence that sometime in the 1880's the Colorado River peaked at 350-375k cfs (History of Lee's Ferry). Normal flow now is about 9k cfs. I bet that flushed it out.
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