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Hundreds of staff and guests were stranded in a national park after monsoon weather caused major flooding that prevented them from escaping on Friday morning, park service officials said.
Heavy rain pushed dirt and debris onto the roads around Death Valley National Park, rendering them impassable and forcing authorities to close the park. The National Park Service (NPS) said the decision trapped 500 staff and 500 visitors inside.
“There are approximately 500 visitors and 500 staff currently unable to exit the park. No staff or visitors have been injured,” the National Park Service said in a statement Friday.
“On August 5, 2022, unprecedented rainfall caused extensive flooding in Death Valley National Park. All roads into and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extent of the situation,” the statement added. .
CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA RESIDENTS ARE FORCED TO EVACUATE AS FIRES BURNT
The California Department of Transportation said clearing the roads would take several hours, pending cooperative weather, the statement added.
“About sixty cars, belonging to visitors and staff, are buried under several feet of debris at the Inn at Death Valley,” NPS said. “Flood waters pushed garbage containers into parked cars, causing the cars to collide. In addition, many facilities are inundated, including hotel rooms and offices.”
“The Cow Creek water system, which provides water to the Cow Creek area for residents and park offices, has failed. Park staff have identified a major break in the line due to of the flood which is being repaired. The rest of the line is being repaired and inspected,” the statement added.
According to NPS, the amount of rain the park saw on Friday, 1.46 inches, was about 75% of the amount of rain the region typically receives in a year.
It also nearly matches the daily record of 1.47 inches set on April 15, 1988.
CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS ARE HELPED BY FAVORABLE WEATHER IN FIGHTING FOREST FIRES
Friday’s park closure comes after flash flooding on Monday disrupted travel on some roads along Highway 190 near Death Valley National Park.
“Remember: turn around, don’t drown!” Death Valley National Park has warned visitors.
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All roads in the park remain closed as of Friday. Additionally, Sunset, Texas Spring and Stovepipe Wells campgrounds have been closed.
Emergency services and the California Department of Transportation continue to assess the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.