Las Vegas flooding leaves residents, cars stranded

September 12, 2012

Las Vegas is drying out this morning after a huge storm yesterday left residents submerged in water and scrambling for cover.

KJZZ’s Mark Moran is in Las Vegas to tell us how residents are faring.

I understand you had some personal experience with yesterday’s rains. What was that like?

I happened to be on the monorail that runs through downtown Las Vegas when the heavy rain really hit, and there were huge buildings right outside that were just not even visible just a few hundred yards away. The rain was so heavy. I’ve never seen it rain as hard as it was raining in as short a duration as it was yesterday at about 2 p.m.

How did it feel to be in one of those cars on a monorail when that kind of rain hit?

It was extremely unsettling being in that monorail, I can tell you, because normally the train would slow down and go around the curve as it normally would, but you could really feel the operator slowing the train down a long time before you’d go around a curve and kind of inching around these curves. You know you’re a couple hundred feet off the ground, just hoping things were going to turn out okay as they kind of slid around these corners. It was a very unsettling feeling being in that thing.

How much rain did Vegas get yesterday?

Well, near the airport it was a little over an inch. Closer into downtown, which really isn’t very far away, was closer to two inches. It was a lot of rain in a hurry. Just like there at home, when you get a lot of rain on the desert floor, it builds up very quickly, and there were feet of water running in the downtown city streets.

 What kinds of problems did it cause?

Well, it snarled traffic of course, but there were cars that were actually submerged halfway up past the door panels in water. There were school buses, which was apparently unadvised obviously, trying to make their way through the city streets in water. There were two to three school buses lined up at any one time trying to get through the streets a little bit after 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon in downtown Las Vegas.

Were there any injuries or death that was reported during the flooding?

Nothing serious that’s been reported. Obviously they were telling people, the slogan here is “Turn around. Don’t drown.” There were a lot of people who were kind of avoiding that, still trying through the water. Interestingly here, just like it is there, as soon as the water gets very high, it will build up very quickly and make things impassable. People were not even waiting the half hour or hour for the water to go down so they could pass safely. A lot of people were really trying to force their way through these intersections, both in their cars and by foot. Some faired OK, and there were cars that were underwater and didn’t make it. Some of them are still sitting there this morning.

How much danger were these motorists really in?

Well, according to the transportation people, and just like there in Phoenix obviously, they tell you not to go into the water. There’s some pretty serious danger when the water is rushing that hard. It doesn’t take a whole lot of water to build up to be rushing very quickly to make it dangerous, and that’s what was happening here.

A lot of people don’t really know what to do if they get trapped in a car during a flood. What’s the best plan of action?

What they’re telling people here, and the same at home there in Phoenix, is don’t go into a wash; don’t go into rushing water. Turn around and don’t try to chance it. Nothing is worth getting into trouble over and drowning or getting washed away in a flood.



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