AUGUST 23, 2023
More than 100 people were evacuated from hotels and residences near the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in Arizona Tuesday, while others were told to shelter in place due to flooding caused by heavy rains, authorities said.
Deputies were dispatched to the town of Tusayan in Coconino County, south of the southern entrance to the Grand Canyon, for reports of flooding due to heavy rainfall in the area at around 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
Over 100 residents and hotel guests were “displaced” and relocated to wait out the flooding, and around 70 students from the Grand Canyon Unified School District also had to take shelter on school property but were later being “returned home,” the sheriff’s office said.
No injuries were reported in connection with the flooding.
U.S. Highway 64 was also closed as water reached levels of three feet deep but has since reopened.
The town of Tusayan touts itself as the “door to the Grand Canyon” on its website and says the community’s history dates back almost to the beginning of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.
Coconino County said in a statement posted on X, formally known as Twitter, that “a significant rainfall event” had impacted the Coconino Wash, a waterway east of Tusayan.
“Emergency notifications advising people in the flood-impacted areas to shelter in place until waters recede have been deployed through the County’s RAVE Emergency Notifications System,” it said.
Noting the closure of Highway 64, the Grand Canyon National Park Service urged visitors to “avoid all travel to and from Tusayan until further notice” and said travel to and from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was not recommended.
In a later update announcing the reopening of the highway at around 9:30 p.m. local time (12:30 a.m. ET Wednesday), it said road closures had lifted, but that power outages continued in Tusayan as crews worked to clear areas damaged by the flooding.
The National Weather Service in Flagstaff extended an areal flood advisory until 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) Wednesday in areas including Tusayan and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, “due to continued flooding caused by excessive rainfall earlier on Tuesday.”