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Hundreds of employees and guests were stuck in one National park after monsoon weather caused major flooding that prevented them from escaping Friday morning, park service officials said.
Heavy rain pushed dirt and debris onto roads around Death Valley National Park, making them impassable and forcing officials to close the park. The National Park Service (NPS) said the decision trapped 500 employees and 500 visitors inside.
“There are approximately 500 visitors and 500 staff members currently unable to exit the park. No injuries to staff or visitors have been reported,” the National Park Service said in a statement Friday.
“On August 5, 2022, unprecedented amounts of rainfall caused significant flooding in Death Valley National Park. All roads in 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.
That California Department of Transportation said clearing the roads would take several hours, pending cooperative weather, the statement added.
“Approximately sixty cars belonging to visitors and staff are buried in several feet of debris at the Inn at Death Valley,” the NPS said. “Flood water pushed containers into parked cars, causing cars to crash into each other. In addition, many facilities are flooded, including hotel rooms and business offices.”
“The Cow Creek Water system, which supplies water to the Cow Creek area for park residents and offices, has failed. Park staff have identified a major break in the line due to the flooding, which is being repaired. The remainder of the line will be inspected,” the statement added.
According to the NPS, the amount of rain the park experienced Friday was 1.46 inches, about 75% of the amount of rain the area typically receives in a year.
It also nearly matches the daily record of 1.47 inches set on April 15, 1988.
Friday’s park closure comes after flooding Monday disrupted travel on some roads along Highway 190, near Death Valley National Park.
“Remember: turn around, don’t drink!” Death Valley National Park warned visitors.
All park roads will remain closed from Friday. Also the sunset, Texas Spring and Stovepipe Wells Campgrounds got closed.
Emergency services and the California Department of Transportation are continuing to assess the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.