Death Valley National Park resident, ranger talks about widespread damage from flash flooding

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:09 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Following historic flash flooding at Death Valley National Park, the National Park Service provided updates on the damage as park roads remain closed.

Thursday morning National Park Ranger and Incident Information Officer Jennette Jurado looked outside her home window to see rushing water surround her driveway.

“It was sobering to say the least,” Jurado said.

The park received nearly a year’s worth of rainfall in a matter of three hours.

“Fortunately if you can say so, the floods happened early in the morning when many people were still in their hotel rooms and they were not out of roads actively driving,” Jurado said.

She said park rangers are trained for all hazard emergency response.

“So there’s a lot of first response that happened there so I got to give a lot of kudos for a lot of really great hard work to help keep this from being any worse,” Jurado said.

The park service says to date, no injuries have been reported from visitors or park presidents. 500 visitors and 500 park residents were stranded at the time of the flash flooding.

“One of the reasons why this impactful event had such a good outcome so far is because people were being mindful of the safety messages. So turn around don’t drown is often repeated and so key. So watching people pay attention to those safety messages and keep themselves out of harmful situations was a big part of why this has gone so well so farm” Jurado said.

Roadways had either minor or severe damage. Aerial searches were conducted on Friday and Saturday to look for anyone stranded on the road.

“There are over a 1,000 miles of roads in this park and some of them being impassable because of the flood conditions it was really key and important to have such great partnership with the Navy and the CHP officers in order to lend that extra hand to get eyes in the air,” Jurado said.

No one was located.

NPS says damage is widespread and park roads will remain closed.

Over 600 feet of the main water line were blown during the flash flooding.

“We also had damage to our emergency services building as well so some building damage, some housing damage some infrastructure damage but the roads definitely had the hardest hit,” Jurado said.

“I am grateful to everyone for their initial response here. This is a place where it takes a village where you can go borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbors so just watching staff come together to help support their neighbors and also start clearing the roads and look for people as soon as they possibly could,” Jurado said.

The California Department of Transportation expects to reopen portions of Highway 109 by Tuesday, allowing travel between Pahrump and the park’s residential area at Cow Creek.