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Tourists visiting gorges off the Grand Canyon were stranded in dangerous flash floods earlier this week and had to be airlifted out of the area by rescue helicopters.
A sudden rainstorm on Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning sent hikers and campers scrambling for shelter and higher ground in the canyons of Arizona’s Havasupai reservation.
About 200 tourists in the nature reserve were forced to evacuate. Rescue helicopters flew people out five at a time, while locals helped evacuate tourists with ATVs and rope. The rescued hikers spent the night in a local school, where they were given food and other supplies. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.
The canyon will be closed for at least a week, a tribal spokesperson told the AP, but crews will begin assessing the extent of the damage sometime on Friday. The National Weather Service in Arizona measured an eight-foot rise in water in the area during the flood.
During the area’s rainy season, unexpected flash floods can cause normally dry parts of the canyon to suddenly be awash in rushing water, catching tourists off guard and leaving them in danger. In fact, in July 2017, a family was killed when a wall of rain water rushed into a swimming area in a canyon north of Phoenix. A similar situation occurred in September 2015 in Utah’s Zion National Park when rain caused a flash flood in a canyon popular with hikers. Seven people drowned in that incident.
Experts are predicting an increased amount of rain in the area during this year’s monsoon season. The Havasu Tribe’s official website offers tourists the latest weather and flooding information.
Featured image by Eric Kremer via Facebook.
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