One Dead in Grand Canyon After Flash Flooding From Monsoons

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U.S.|Monsoon rains flood the Grand Canyon, leaving one camper dead.

Flooding turned the water muddy brown in parts of the Grand Canyon on Thursday.
Credit...John Dillon, via Associated Press

Isabella Grullón Paz

  • July 16, 2021, 4:13 p.m. ET

A woman was found dead and five people were injured after a flash flood in the Grand Canyon this week, the National Park Service said on Friday, as monsoon rains left parts of Arizona awash in muddy, fast-moving and potentially dangerous water.

As parts of the West prepare for the fourth major heat wave of the summer, monsoon season in the Southwest has also brought heavy rain to New Mexico and Arizona, with an unusually intense downpour propelling a torrent of water through part of the Grand Canyon, washing away a camp where about 30 people on a rafting trip were spending the night.

Park officials started a search after receiving a report of two people missing and “multiple parties injured.” Early Thursday, search and rescue workers found five people, one of whom was in critical condition, the park service said. Two more were later found, one uninjured and one dead.

The park service said the person who died was Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Kaitlyn Thomas, a park service spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said the flood overtook the campsite from the sides of the canyon, an uncommon occurrence.

Large parts of the Southwest are susceptible to flash floods, with dry, sparsely vegetated land that does not easily absorb rain and makes it easy for the smallest of storms to create a torrent, as rain runoff moves rapidly through narrow canyons and steep terrain.

Floods can get even worse during monsoon season, which runs from June to September. The National Weather Service issued flash flood and storm warnings for parts of Arizona on Wednesday and Thursday, and said the warnings would remain in place through the next few days.

Flash floods have pummeled the state this week, especially in Flagstaff, where the waters have washed away cars. Gov. Doug Ducey announced a state of emergency on Friday in Coconino County, which includes Flagstaff, saying that the state would make up to $200,000 available for response efforts.

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