Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1st anniversary of Havasu Canyon flood

Yesterday was the anniversary of what arguably was the worst flood in modern history in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Reservation. The peak discharge of the event was much lower than some other floods of the past century but it appears the total volume of water was higher. Trails, campgrounds, and other facilities were destroyed. Erosion threatened undercutting the slopes of tribal cemetaries on canyon bluffs. Helicopters evacuated 400-600 residents and campers.

Havasu Creek changed course, resulting in the disappearance of Fifty Foot Falls, and the creation of a new falls, alternatively called Rock Falls, Emerald Falls, or Unnamed Falls. [right, my photo looking upstream from just below the village of Supai. Fall 2008]

But the Havasupai Tribe started restoring and rebuilding immediately. The tourist facilities opened up on June 1 of this year and they were quickly booked. The iconic Havasu Falls was permanently altered, but the famous turquoise waters continue and pool at the base is rebuilding itself as travertine deposits are forming rapidly.

There is still much work to do and lots that can be done to mitigate future floods but kudos to the Havasupai Tribe and their friends for a remarkable recovery.

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