LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hundreds of hotel guests trapped in flash floods in Death Valley National Park were able to drive out after crews cleared trails through rocks and mud, but flood waters forced them out. Damaged and debris-choked roads were expected to remain closed until next week, officials said Saturday.

According to the National Park Service, Navy and California Highway Patrol helicopters conducted an aerial search for the stranded vehicle in a remote area, but found nothing. However, it may take several days to assess the damage. His more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) of roads span 3.4 million acres (1.3 million hectares) in the park near the California-Nevada state line.

No injuries have been reported from Friday’s record rain. Park he rained 1.46 inches (3.71 cm) in the Furnace Creek area. This is about 75% of what the region normally gets in a year, and is above the record set for the entire month of August.

According to park officials, the wettest day since 1936 was April 15, 1988, with 1.47 inches (3.73 centimeters).

Nicky Jones, a restaurant worker who lives in a hotel with a colleague, said it was raining Friday morning when she went out for breakfast. , reached the doorway of the room.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Jones. “Never in my life have I seen water rise so fast.”

Fearing that water would seep into their first-floor room, Jones and his friends placed their belongings on the bed and placed towels at the bottom of the doorway to keep the water out.

“People around me said they’d never seen anything this bad before — and they’d been working here for a while,” Jones said.

Their room was safe, but five or six other rooms in the hotel were flooded. The carpets in those rooms were later torn out.

Most of the rain — just over an inch — was a spectacular downpour between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday, according to John Adair, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

Flooding “will only block access to Death Valley, wash away roads and create a lot of debris,” Adair said.

Highway 190, the highway through the park, is expected to reopen between Furnace Creek and Pahrump, Nevada, by Tuesday, officials said.

Park employees stranded on blocked roads also continued to evacuate on the spot, except for emergencies, officials said.

Arizona-based adventure photographer John Surlyn said he witnessed the flooding while perched on a hillside rock trying to photograph the lightning as the storm approached.

“The sound of the rocks coming down the mountain was unbelievable,” he said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Most of the area has receded, leaving a dense layer of mud and gravel. About 60 vehicles were partially buried in mud and debris. There were numerous reports of road damage, with residential waterways in the Cow Creek area of ​​the park broken in multiple places. Homes were also damaged.

“The severity and widespread nature of this rainfall will take time to rebuild and reopen everything,” park manager Mike Reynolds said in a statement.

Storms followed heavy flooding earlier this week at a park 120 miles (193 km) northeast of Las Vegas. Part roads were closed.

According to Chandler, Arizona resident Surlyn, who has been visiting the park since 2016, the rain started around 2 a.m. on Friday.

Sirlin, lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures, which began tracking storms in Minnesota and the Highlands in the 1990s, said:

“There was a lot of cleaning fluid running several feet deep. Probably three to four feet of rock covering the road,” he said.

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Velvet reported from Phoenix. Contributed by his AP reporter Scott Sonar from Reno, Nevada, and his AP radio correspondent Julie Walker from New York.

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