SUPAI, Ariz. (AP) — After extensive flooding forced the closure of Havasupai campground July 11, the Havasupai tribe has issued a disaster declaration and said the lodge and campground will be closed until Sept. 1, according to tribal spokeswoman Abbie Fink.
Along with damaging the campground and washing out trails and footbridges on the reservation, the tribe said rock slides and mud cut off access to a 10-mile (16-kilometer) hiking trail that goes through Supai village to the campground. The mule train that delivers mail also has been halted.
The tribe spent $25,000 to feed, clothe and evacuate about 200 people who stayed overnight in a community building in the village after the floods struck July 11 and 12. Emergency repairs to the hiking trail and in the village and campground are expected to top $250,000 — a cost the tribe said it cannot shoulder without outside help.
The tribe’s disaster declaration was approved July 17 and is needed for the tribe to request financial help from the federal government.
“The unstable and dangerous conditions of the affected areas and our tribe’s limited resources necessitate the need for federal assistance,” tribal Chairwoman Muriel Coochwytewa said in a news release.
Footbridges collapsed, tents were buried in sand and debris strewn about as water rushed through the canyon late July 11 and before dawn July 12. Campers sought refuge on benches, in trees and in caves. The existing waterfalls turned a muddy brown, and new ones emerged from the steep walls of the canyon.
No one was seriously injured.
Crews are working to remove boulders, trees, debris and abandoned camping gear and rebuild footbridges and parts of the hiking trail, Fink said.
Grand Canyon National Park has also sent a trail crew to help make needed repairs, according to acting chief of facility management and engineering Donna Richardson.
Richardson said the park was able to help with heavy equipment, called rock busters, to help break up some of the boulders blocking the trail into Havasupai so they can be removed by work crews.
“We’re working with a Havasupai crew, and half are starting at the bottom of the trail and half at the top,” Richardson said. “we’re slowing working our way through the boulders.”
The tribe is asking for donations for workers, including cots, shade tents, sand bags, shovels, gloves, rakes and other tools.
Supplies are being delivered via helicopter, the only way in and out of the reservation currently.
The closure of the reservation is an economic hit for the tribe that relies on tourism. It plans to reopen the campground and a lodge Sept. 1.
Grand Canyon News reporter Erin Ford contributed to this report.