Local people recall narrow escape from Grand Canyon flash flood | TheUnion.com

Local people recall narrow escape from Grand Canyon flash flood

Cyndra McLeod recalls the roar of the dark, purple-red waters and the vibration of giant boulders crashing down Havasu Creek in Grand Canyon the night of Aug. 17, when a dam burst in the area causing a flash flood.

That night, McLeod was camping by the creek with a group of 16 Northern Californians. They all survived the raging waters by scrambling to a higher ground on time.

“We had camped at the mouth of the Havasu Canyon, and at 2 in the morning, we heard something that sounded like a jet plane,” McLeod said. “I was awakened by human voices shouting, ‘Run!’ People were scrambling to get onto higher ground.”

McLeod, 51, a resident of North San Juan, was on a 16-day rafting trip down Colorado River when the flashflood occurred.

The group had five rafts and a kayak, which all were swept downstream by the flood and later retrieved, McLeod said.

The rafter’s rescue was covered on national television. All told, more than 400 people were evacuated from the area, and tourists aren’t expected to be able to return for weeks, according to reports.

The local group had witnessed a flash flood earlier on Saturday afternoon caused by heavy rainfall, but the second flashflood at night is what put everyone’s life in danger.

“I’ve never been in a flash flood before,” said Matt Hart, 18, McLeod’s son. The scariest part was wondering if everyone in the group would survive the crisis, he said.

A woman in the group was sunbathing downstream on a ledge Saturday when the first flash flood took place, Hart said.

The water came within a foot of where she was located, he added. The second flash flood brought the water level above that ledge, McLeod said.

McLeod, Hart and the rest of the group were airlifted out of the area Sunday afternoon. The rafters spent the night at a Red Cross shelter in Peach Springs, Ariz. before heading back home.

“I’ve been hiking since I was 15, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” McLeod said. “But we were all just together like a unit. Everyone was in good spirits and was helpful. It just renewed my faith in humanity.”


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

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