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Cleanup efforts at Death Valley continue after Thanksgiving break

After taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, extra workers have returned to Death Valley Monday to maintain the recovery momentum from flooding that occurred in October.

There were 45 National Park Service staff members from several different parks who reported for duty at the national park to continue cleanup and repair efforts after a series of rainstorms caused repeated flash flooding, resulting in one of the worst and costliest storms in the park’s history.

The storms culminated in an Oct. 18th event, when over three inches of rain fell in just five hours in Grapevine Canyon. That outburst of precipitation resulted in a flood that ripped out utilities, deposited thick layers of mud in the visitor center and Hacienda office building, and blocked hundreds of miles of roads with flood debris.

Trail crews from Mesa Verde and Glacier national parks are working at Scotty’s Castle, and are continuing to shovel mud from around buildings and landscaping where heavy equipment can’t operate. Crews will bring in about two miles of eight-inch PVC pipe to re-establish a temporary, non-potable water line, vital for providing minimal fire protection to Scotty’s Castle and other buildings on the site.

While Southern California Edison works to re-establish electrical service to the area, generators are being installed to provide short-term electricity.

Road crews are rebuilding road shoulders along Badwater Road and grading Harry Wade Road at the south end of the park, with the goal of reopening access to the southern end of Death Valley. Miles of pavement were destroyed in the area near Jubilee Pass, near the park boundary west of Shoshone. Repaving of this section is scheduled to begin in early 2016.

National Park Service engineers continue to assess damage and develop cost estimates for repairs to utilities and structures on the grounds of Scotty’s Castle.

The additional work crews will be working in Death Valley for the next two to three weeks with the goal of reopening additional roads, restoring utilities and developing a plan for Scotty’s Castle repairs.

For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, visit Death Valley’s website at nps.gov/deva.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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