FLASTAFF, Arizona – A man who went missing from a Colorado River rafting trip during flooding in the Grand Canyon was found dead in icy water Thursday and another was found alive, a park spokesman said.
The flood was part of a rainstorm that engulfed Arizona this week, including Flagstaff, where city streets were littered with rubbish as water mixed with logs and debris flowed. The cleanup was underway on Thursday amid the threat of more rain.
At the Grand Canyon, a waterfall ran through a slot canyon and washed away the camp where two commercial rafts with 30 passengers were pulled down from the river Wednesday evening to stay on the riverbank, Grand Canyon spokesman Joel Baird said.
Authorities initially believed the two men had drowned in the river and began searching the plane, ground and water to find them. One camp found that the group had left to find a safe place to sleep, Bayer said. The other was found dead in the water next to the camp, he said.
Park officials did not identify the rafters. Baird declined to name the rafting company, saying the park has no policy outside the honor of those who allow commercial use.
A park helicopter took two paradigms to the river late Wednesday night and received satellite phone calls asking for help from someone on the trip to treat and stabilize the injured rafters. Several of the injured passengers were airlifted from the valley, Baird said. He was not sure about the extent of their injuries.
Byrd said the park will help other travelers off the river who want to shorten their journey.
The floodwaters receded about 644 miles[644 km]into the camp, from where rafts were launched on the Lis ferry near the Arizona-Utah state line. Forecasters issued a flash flood watch for the region on Wednesday, but it is not yet clear whether rafting guides were aware.
According to the National Weather Service, the radar showed about two and a half centimeters of rain on that side of the Colorado River.
Desperate for rain after two years of torrential rains, the entire south-west has been battered by storms lately. More rainfall is forecast.
A fire department Swift Water team in Tucson rescued a father and his two daughters from the roof of their car on Wednesday after a car was washed dry and stuck in floodwaters, Sonar Ranch Fire District spokesman Capt. Adam Jarold said.
“Our message – to tell everyone, ‘be patient’, especially here in the desert,” he said. “The water rises quickly, but it goes away quickly.”
Further north of Flagstaff, 2019 and its environs flooded the watershed community in the shadow of burnt mountains, sending at least one vehicle floating on city streets. Residents were somewhat prepared for a major flood with sandbags around their homes and concrete barriers in the way of redirecting water, yet many of them are being excavated.
Under recent state legislation, Flannstaff may be able to recover some of the costs of responding to flood damage and repairing floodplains. Cities can also be reimbursed for providing emergency shelter and assistance to displaced people, but this does not allow them to spend on repairing individual homes.
The National Weather Service said the risk of early flooding would remain within the next week, although its spread would be widespread.
“Humidity isn’t going anywhere and it will heat up, so these are perfect ingredients for afternoons and evenings in Arizona,” says Evian Lagardia, a meteorologist at Flangstaff.