weather icon Partly Cloudy

Areas hardest hit in Death Valley floods continue cleanup efforts

After torrential downpours flooded out sections of Death Valley National Park, the area continues to clean up and recover.

Scotty’s Castle received 2.7 inches of rain on Oct. 18, with an area just a half-mile away receiving 3.5 inches of rain, and saw some of the worst of the damages in the entire park.

Mud and debris were removed from around several buildings last week as up to four feet of mud was left behind in areas of Scotty’s Castle.

Since Saturday crews have progressed along Harry Wade Road, clearing approximately eight miles of road since Scotty’s Castle area.

Crews continue to remove debris from the around the Cookhouse and mud and silt from the tunnels.

Cleaning and repair work is taking place on the culverts, and removal of downed cottonwood trees continues. In addition, the trail to Scotty’s grave has been repaired.

To give a larger sense of the magnitude of work the crews at the national park are conducting the park service compared the debris weight to a beloved American site.

“Crews are removing an estimated 400,000 tons of debris from park roads, which the the equivalent of the weight of five Washington Monuments.”

Historic objects that were put away were unpacked and there was an assessment of the area by archeologists.

The main building sustained only minor damage due to roof leaks, but the HVAC system is not operational due to compromised utilities. In addition, historic furniture, archives and other museum collections are threatened by mold, rodents, dust and the lack of a fire suppression system.

It is estimated that ranger tours through Scotty’s Castle generate around $550,000 in fees annually, with about 120,000 people per year visiting the site. Scotty’s Castle will not reopen anytime soon as the area is likely to be closed for the foreseeable future.

Around five miles of road near Scotty’s Castle was destroyed in the flood and is currently closed to visitors. A one-lane dirt road has been created in order for work crews to travel in and out of the area safely.

Near Badwater, Badwater Road remains closed due to several areas of the road being washed out along a 10-mile stretch.

Artists Drive, a paved road and Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road, a dirt road, remain closed due to missing sections of Artists Drive and the dirt road being washed out during the storm.

In the historic district, a bridge was moved slightly but is still usable. The historic long shed and bunkhouse are surrounded by up to five feet of mud. The historic pool was also hit as it is filled with water and mud.

Utilities were also hit, as a water treatment facility was damaged; 24 power poles were decimated and the propane line was broken in the historic district.

Damage assessments in Death Valley are ongoing, but current estimates have the damage coming in at tens of millions of dollars.

With an overly-active El Nino season predicted, more rain events could be headed Death Valley’s way this winter.

The effects are a double-edged sword, as more floods would certainly hamper any work being done at the time to repair areas affected by the storm, but a spring wildflower event could happen as result of the above-average precipitation, which could draw increased park visitation during the park’s centennial anniversary year celebration.

If you plan to travel to Death Valley National Park check ahead to see if the destination you want to see is open and accessible. You can get park updates by visiting www.nps.gov/deva or checking their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DeathValleyNP.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Find him on Twitter: @mickakers.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Basin and Blagg intersection closure starts Monday

The construction currently underway on Basin Avenue has been focused on the intersection at Blagg Road for the last few weeks and Nye County Public Works will soon have that intersection back to full use but first, the department will need to close it to regular traffic, a fact which area motorists will want to take note.

SNEAK PEEK: Go inside ‘The Bagel Lady’s’ new Pahrump shop – PHOTOS

Shelly Fisher AKA “The Bagel Lady” is opening Shelly’s NY Bagels on March 25. Fisher has customized the corner suite at 1190 E. Highway 372 and will serve breakfast and lunch there. She tells the Pahrump Valley Times how the local community has helped grow her operation and gave our Faye Burdzinski and John Clausen an inside look at her new operation.

Pahrump fugitive arrested after months on the run

Anthony Bell evaded a SWAT-team standoff earlier this month. Footage shows the suspect brandished a rifle outside Pahrump casino following a fight in December.

LOVE FADING: See what’s become of the notorious Love Ranch brothel – PHOTOS

A year after the Love Ranch sold as part of a $1.3-million acquisition of 23 properties that included this Nye County brothel where NBA star Lamar Odom was famously found passed out from an apparent drug overdose, there’s been little effort to reopen or restore the iconic site. Photojournalist John Clausen went inside to “show us the Love.”

Pahrump’s Heidi Fleiss recalls ups and downs with actor Tom Sizemore

Actor Tom Sizemore died on March 3, after suffering a stroke weeks earlier. He starred in Natural Born Killers, Saving Private Ryan and other blockbuster films. Sizemore served 8 months for abusing the former ‘Hollywood Madam.’ Fleiss reflects on their time together.

Pahrump casinos paid out $1.6M in jackpots last month

A lucky local playing at the Pahrump Nugget took home the biggest win of the month when he hit a royal flush and won $20,000 on a $5 bet playing video poker on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Nye County’s 5.7% jobless rate among highest in state

About 985 Nye County workers remain unemployed, according to the latest workforce figures, which show Nevada has overall surpassed 1.5 million jobs and has largely recovererd any positions that it lost during the pandemic.