Flash flooding in Supai Canyon forced the evacuation of more than 400 campers and residents, many by helicopter, and breached a small livestock water supply dam near Grand Canyon National Park Aug. 17.
Personnel from eight public safety agencies evacuated campers and residents from Supai Canyon, about 75 west of the Grand Canyon Village on the south rim of the national park, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Supai Canyon is a popular destination for hikers and campers, the sheriff’s office said. The Hualapai village of Supai is the home of about 400 permanent residents.
No injuries were reported. Evacuees were bused to an American Red Cross shelter at the Hualapai Tribal Gymnasium in Peach Springs, Ariz.
The sheriff’s office said significant flooding after heavy rain, the breach of the Redlands Earthen Dam, and the potential for additional flooding forced the evacuations. The dam break allowed a high volume of water to rush down Cataract Canyon, eventually feeding into Supai Canyon. However, authorities emphasized the failure of the dam -� which formed a pond to provide water to livestock — was only one factor in the flooding.
Heavy rain the afternoon of Aug. 16 led to flooding in Supai late Aug. 16 and early Aug. 17. Water levels in the canyon remained high though the morning of Aug. 18 due to additional rainfall Aug. 17. Although the Supai area’s total rainfall Aug. 15-17 was relatively light, as much as six inches fell from 20 to 40 miles upstream from Supai, authorities said.
Flash flooding also was reported on Aug. 16 in Havasu Canyon, a popular side canyon to the Grand Canyon. Authorities checking on unmanned rafts floating down the Colorado River discovered 16 members of a private boating party the next day, all stranded on a ledge at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River. The boaters also were evacuated to the shelter.
Grand Canyon National Park is downstream of the Bureau of Reclamation’s 1,312-MW Glen Canyon Dam, whose jet tubes were opened in March to create artificial flooding to restore sandbars and beaches in the main body of the canyon. (HNN 3/6/08)