About 200 tourists were being evacuated Thursday from a campground on tribal land near famous waterfalls deep in a gorge off the Grand Canyon, the AP reports. The evacuations came after the Havasupai Tribe reservation was hit with two rounds of flooding Wednesday and early Thursday, officials said. An evacuated hiker tells the AP people were swimming at the base of the falls when flash flooding struck, sending them scrambling for higher ground. Benji Xie said the skies opened up, sheets of rain fell and mud waterfalls appeared on both sides of the gorge. Water crept up around people's tents and Xie and his friends began warning other campers to flee. Xie said some people were stranded on islands that formed in the water, while others climbed up trees or took shelter in caves.
He said as water receded, members of the tribe used ATVs, rope and manpower to rescue the roughly 200 stranded tourists before helicopters were deployed. People slept in a community building and will be helicoptered out Thursday. The tribe also provided food and supplies. Tribal spokeswoman Abbie Fink says all the tourists are accounted for and no one was seriously injured. The reservation is known for its blue-green waterfalls. Spots in the campgrounds sell out quickly every year. Posts on social media showed water roaring through a canyon and people saying the area was a mess. Fink says the reservation will be closed to visitors for more than a week as damage is assessed.
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