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Tusayan officials still assessing damage after flash flooding

Water and debris are flooded along Highway 64 through the Town of Tusayan on August 22, 2023.
NPS Photo
Water and debris are flooded along Highway 64 through the Town of Tusayan on August 22, 2023.

The mayor of the Town of Tusayan has declared an emergency after this week’s flash flooding. A major monsoon storm triggered nearly three feet of water to rush through the heart of the community.

Almost three inches of rain fell in less than an hour northeast of Tusayan Tuesday. The flooding damaged homes and public infrastructure and temporarily closed Highway 64, which serves as Tusayan’s main street and the primary route to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Officials are still assessing the damage.

"We have never seen anything like this. I’ve never seen anything that’s even probably a quarter of this with flooding in Tusayan," says Tusayan Mayor Clarinda Vail. "We were all caught completely off guard because it wasn’t even raining here.

She says between 20 and 30 residents remain displaced but have been housed in local hotels and elsewhere. Some hotels in Tusayan sustained damage but public property seems to have borne the brunt.

No injuries were reported from the flooding. Vail’s emergency declaration allows Tusayan to apply for financial assistance and reimbursement for recovery costs from state, federal and other sources.

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors this week issued its own emergency declaration for the town.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.