Originally Published: August 20, 2008 10:09 p.m.
Many tourists and residents of Arizona know how pristine Havasu Falls appears deep in the Grand Canyon near the village of Supai, which is near the bottom of the canyon in an area west of the national park's headquarters.
The waterfall's blue-green, tranquil waterfalls are beautiful. However, that picture changes every so often when flooding occurs in the area - to one of muddy brown, dangerous water.
The largest flood to occur there happened in January 1910, according to a Bureau of Reclamation article. Smaller, summer floods have occurred between 1935 and 1990. Historians say that intense thunderstorms that lasted several days in 1990 "caused the largest flood since 1935, and possibly 1910. ... Recent flooding reflects the flood regime of the first third of the 20th century, and frequency of intense precipitation."
Tell that to the hundreds of campers, river runners and hikers who got caught in this past weekend's flooding, which The Daily Courier featured in Wednesday's edition. Of the people it involved, several were Prescott and Wilhoit residents who told us their story.
What happened Saturday night, which authorities are blaming on storms that dumped 3 to 6 inches of rain on the entire region Friday and Saturday and possibly a breeched dam up stream, sent campers scrambling for higher ground.
The good news is that rescue crews on Monday tracked down 11 hikers who were the last remaining tourists unaccounted for, according to the Associated Press. Those from our area escaped Saturday night and Sunday morning. The bad news is authorities are still getting calls from people who believe their loved ones may be in the canyon.
Lesson No. 1: Follow the rules. Authorities have evacuated everyone who signed in at the bottom of the trail into the remote area. This is one of the reasons visitors to the area must sign in; not doing so puts rescue crews in further danger, looking for stragglers.
Lesson No. 2: Be prepared. The Boy Scout motto more than applies here. Many of the people who escaped the flood's wrath were ready to head for the hills at a moment's notice.
Camping, canoeing and hiking in the wilderness can be dangerous. At this point, thankfully no one has suffered serious injuries.
To say all concerned were lucky is an understatement. Just know that following the rules and being prepared help too.