ST. GEORGE — A day after a major flash flood hit Zion National Park and its surrounding community, the resulting damage is proving to be even worse than initially thought.
One business hit especially hard was the Quality Inn at the Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort, which is reported to be a total loss. While the building is destroyed, hotel management said they plan to reopen the surrounding campground by Saturday. See video below for a look at the flooding damage at Quality Inn.
Also taking extensive damage was the Cable Mountain Lodge at 147 Zion Park Blvd., which the mayor said lost 30 of its rooms to the flood. However, the general manager told St. George News on Thursday that the number of rooms damaged was actually 18.
More than 1 1/2 inches of rain came down within an hour Tuesday afternoon causing a major flash flood that seemingly leaked out of the main gates of the park into the towns of Springdale to the west and the Kane County entrance to the east.
The oversize parking lot in the park, where most recreational vehicles park, took a big hit and will be closed “indefinitely,” park spokesperson Amanda Rowland told St. George News.
Also closed was a portion of the Watchman Trail. It will be for a while.
“It’s due to the amount of debris. A part of the trail has washed away,” Rowland said. “We don’t have a timetable.”
Nevertheless, the park did reopen Wednesday – though even getting in and out is being hampered right now, as the park gates were limited on both sides to one lane in and one lane out.
“It’s important for folks to have patience,” Rowland said. “Our campgrounds are open, and people can come have a safe experience.”
In the immediacy of the flood and the first hours after, the goal for park officials was to make sure visitors to the park were safe, Rowland said. The damage bill will come later.
“We still need to understand the damage, and we will learn that over time,” Rowland said, noting that just as dangerous as the floodwaters were the debris it was carrying. “The good news is everyone is safe and no lives were lost.”
The Zion Canyon Shuttle inside the park is operating again. However, the Springdale Shuttle that takes people from the town to the park gates remained out of service Wednesday with no timetable for return. While Zion Park Boulevard, covered in mud on Tuesday from the park gate to Blondie’s Diner, was passable Wednesday as crews continued cleanup efforts.
In a minor blessing for the cleanup efforts, another chance of monsoonal rain that had been in the forecast Wednesday didn’t materialize before the late afternoon. That left partly sunny skies turning the mud still covering parts of town into dried dirt. Digging out for some parts of town will take time.
“One hotel will most likely have to close down and rebuild,” Springdale Mayor Stan Smith told St. George News. “A second hotel has 30 rooms that are not rentable. Many big equipment machines have been working all day long to clear the debris and mud.”
Tourists weren’t the only ones inconvenienced; one store in Springdale, Hoodoos General Store, has been closed after floodwaters rushed inside and left behind 4 feet of mud throughout the store. The store’s owner, who also owns the Sol Foods Supermarket nearby, which has remained open, said they are working to reopen as soon as possible. (See Ed. note)
The market’s manager, Maria Gonzalez, said they weren’t sure when that would be.
But Gonzalez’s spirits were still up. A big reason, she said, was seeing local residents show up throughout the day to help with the cleanup. Between the residents and workers, 15 people were working to clear out the mud and muck.
“We’ll be good,” she said.
Updated 3:15 p.m., The article was updated with information about Cable Mountain Lodge.
Ed. note: An earlier version of this article stated that Sol Foods Supermarket had been closed as a result of the flooding; however, the store is still open for customers.
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