Note From Editor/Admin. The following trip report is a contribution from one of our readers and associated Facebook group membership.
As you may, or may not be aware of, the Havasu Falls/Supai, Arizona area was devastated by a Flash Flood on July 13, 2018. In some estimates there was in excess of $250,000.00 worth of damage to the village, the campgrounds and the trail.
The area was closed off to tourists, campers, and visitors while safety concerns were eliminated, and repairs were made.
The long anticipated reopening of the area was on September 1, 2018. We expected physical alterations to the natural beauty of the area. It has occurred in the past. This is an ever changing environment. We have been hoping someone would let us know what to expect.
This is an official update/media release statement provided to us.
This came out 7/26/2018.
Tribal Council Passes Declaration of Disaster Resolution
The Havasupai Tribal Council passed a Declaration of Disaster (Resolution #39-18) declaring a state of emergency for the Havasupai Indian Reservation trails leading into Supai, Village in Northern Arizona. On July 11, 2018 several waves of flooding hit Supai village and Havasu Campgrounds. The storm caused catastrophic damage in the form of mud and rock slides to the Hualapai Hilltop trail, including the dislocation of large boulders which are blocking the only access for food, medical and mail supplies in and out of Supai Village. The United States Postal Service has temporarily ceased mail delivery by mule train to Supai (this is the last location in the US to be served in this manner). In addition, critical food and supplies are cut off to the Village except through helicopter.
The declaration states, due to flood levels and rock slides the main trail leading into Supai, Village has been declared dangerous and needs major repairs. Currently, Hilltop Trailhead is closed to all hikers and mule trains into the Village out of concern for the life, health, safety and well-being of the residents and animals in Supai.
“The unstable and dangerous conditions of the affected areas and our Tribe’s limited resources necessitate the need for federal assistance,” said Chairwoman Muriel Coochwytewa. “The Tribal Council, in consultation with The Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (AZ DEMA) and Coconino County Emergency Management, have determined that the cost of emergency repairs is expected to exceed $250,000. With our limited resources, we are unable to undertake this effort without federal assistance.”
An initial assessment by State and County Emergency Officials the disaster requires major remediation and recovery efforts. The Tribe is taking steps to qualify for disaster assistance from the United States.
According to Chairwoman Coochwytewa, the Tribe’s primary source of revenue is the tourists who travel from all over the world to experience the Reservation’s unique blue-green waterfalls. The closure of Tribe’s tourist economy will be devastating to the economic status and directly affect tribal members employed by the Tourism Department as well.
“The immediate and extended closure of Havasu Canyon will cause severe financial harm to the Havasupai Reservation and our Tribal members,” said Chairwoman Coochwytewa. “The trail from Hualapai Hilltop is unsafe and due to these conditions, will remain closed allowing the Tribe to ensure that the area is safe. The campgrounds and the lodge will re-open on September 1, 2018.”
Visitors with confirmed reservations at the campground or the lodge that are impacted by this closure are encouraged to contact the Tourist Office to reschedule, 928-448-2141. Please be patient as the Tourist Office works to accommodate all requests.
The flooding necessitated the activation of the Havasupai Tribal Emergency Response Team who initiated the relocation, housing, clothing, feeding and evacuation of all visitors. This was done at the Tribe’s own expense, totaling an estimated $25,000.
The Havasupai people reside primarily in Supai Village, remotely located in the bottom of a canyon in Northern Arizona adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park. At the time of the flood, it is estimated that 400 tribal members as well an additional 10-15 people who are contracted tribal or federal employees were in the area.
“The Tribe would like to thank all the agencies and individual tribal members that responded during the Emergency including the Havasupai Tourist Office staff, BIA-Law Enforcement, Supai Café/Store/Lodge staff, IHS-Indian Health Service, BIE-Bureau of Education, Papillion Helicopters, Airwest Helicopters, and DPS-Department of Public Safety, and the Hualapai Tribe,” said Chairwoman Coochwytewa.
We have not had an official Havasupai Media Release since the one shown below of July 13, 2018 4:06. We have noticed they have updated their official website to indicate the area is closed to visitors/tourist until at least the end of July 2018.
Click the link for the Official Havasupai Website
UPDATE Havasu Falls Flash Flood July 13, 2018 4:06 local
Havasupai Media Release:
Havasupai Tribe’s Quick Response Ensures All Visitors Safely Evacuated Following Flash Flood.
The nearly 200 visitors onsite at the campgrounds at Havasupai Falls were safely evacuated from the area by 6 pm Thursday, July 12, 2018. Thanks to the quick response from the Havasupai Tribal Council and the Havasupai Tourism Enterprise employees, there were no serious injuries or casualties reported.
Many had to evacuate without their packs. Grand Canyon Caverns provided food for those who were evacuated, along with showers and usage of the Cavern’s telephones.
There were two waves of flooding. About 7 feet of flood waters hit Supai shortly before dark on July 11, 2018. Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service in Flagstaff contacted the tribe around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 with a flood advisory for the area.
The Tribal Council immediately activated the Tourist Office and Emergency Response Team, who promptly evacuated the campgrounds. There were 17 visitors on the opposite side of the flooded creek that were unable to leave the area immediately. They were able to safely evacuate the area at sunrise on July 12, after the water had receded.
The second wave of flooding occurred at approximately 3:30 am on July 12.
The Tribal Council opened up the Community Building and the elementary school for all visitors to sleep. In addition, the Tribe opened up the store and distributed food and supplies to the tourists.
The waves of flood waters did not hit Supai Village (approximately 1 ½ miles from the campground), but there is some significant flooding in several Tribal buildings due to the rain water. In addition, there are reports of debris, sinkholes and a bridge that has been compromised. This is throughout the Tribal Community (non-public areas).
The Arizona Department of Public Safety dispatched a field officer to Supai to assist Tribal leadership in assessing and evaluating the conditions. The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (AZ DEMA) and Coconino County Emergency Management will also be assisting the Tribe in assessing and evaluating the conditions of the area.
Following these evaluations, the Tribal Council will determine if it qualifies for federal disaster relief designation and will consider at that time whether to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There are approximately 400 tribal members that live in Supai as well an additional 10-15 people who are contracted tribal or federal employees. Helicopter service is running as scheduled and anyone currently in Supai is able to leave via helicopter if they so choose.
Indian Route 18 remains closed to the public until further notice. Tribal members, law enforcement and emergency response teams will be able to travel via Indian Route 18.
The trail from Hilltop is unsafe and due to the conditions in Supai, the area remains closed to visitors until the Tribe repairs the damaged campgrounds and determines that the area is safe. Tourists with confirmed reservations should contact their travel agent or outfitter for more information. If your visit is directly impacted by this closure, you will have the option to reschedule your reservation, although specifics on the process are unavailable at this time.
The tourism office estimates that there are approximately 300 reservations that may be impacted by the closure.
Please DO NOT contact the Tribal Tourism Office at this time. All phone lines are being used for emergency services. Updated information regarding re-opening will posted on the Tribe’s website http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/.