Published Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 | 10:42 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 | 5:46 p.m.
Two people are feared missing after being seen in flood-control channels swollen by heavy rainstorms that pummeled the Las Vegas Valley on Wednesday.
At 11:24 a.m., Metro Police received a call about a person in dark clothing holding onto an item in a wash near Eastern Avenue and Warm Springs Road. Metro ground and air units searched the area but could not find the person, and Metro spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said the search apparently had ended early this afternoon.
At 11:41 a.m., Henderson emergency responders received a report of a teenage man falling into the Pittman Wash behind the Target store near Stephanie Street and Sunset Road.
Henderson police and fire personnel responded to where the wash flows beneth Sunset Road, Stephanie Street and Boulder Highway in an attempt to locate the individual, according to city spokesman Bud Cranor. No individuals were spotted by emergency personnel. A Metro Police air unit also performed a search of the wash, but its efforts were unsuccessful, as well, Cranor said. The search party failed to find the boy throughout the afternoon and will be stopping from the search until Thursday morning, Cranor said
Crainer said it would continue as a search mission, and he remained hopeful the teen would be found alive.
"As more time passes we always want to remain optimistic and continue to do all we can," Cranor said.
Additionally, Metro sent a helicopter to investigate a report of four teenagers riding an inflated mattress down the Pecos Wash, said spokesman Marcus Martin. The pilot saw the teenagers, who were wearing only shorts, leave the wash safely without assistance at 1:30 p.m. and exit on a bike trail by Green Valley Parkway.
Swollen flood channels were an attractive nuisance throughout the day. A Sun staff member happened upon two college-aged men in shorts and shoes entering a raging flood channel near Jessup Road and Wigwam Parkway in Henderson and being carried swiftly downstream as a third friend tried to keep pace, running atop the bank alongside the channel. The outcome of their outing was not known.
Navigating roads was difficult enough, with intersections flooded and traffic signals inoperative throughout the valley.
Henderson officials wanted everyone to just stay home.
"Due to the severe weather and flooding we are currently experiencing, the Henderson Police Department is asking our residents to stay off the roads as much as possible," the department said in an email sent out just before 1 p.m. As of 3 p.m., the city still was asking motorists to stay off the roads if at all possible due to continued precipitation. Additionally, crews were working to remove debris from some roadways that were flooded, Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said.
With more than 2.5 inches of rain measured in some areas today, the National Weather Service issued a valleywide flash flood warning through midafternoon. A flash flood watch throughout the valley remains in effect through 1 a.m. Thursday. A flash flood warning means that flash flooding is imminent or already occurring.
In Henderson, which was among the areas hit with the heaviest rainfall this morning, the city announced the closing of several roads:
• Wigwam Parkway between Stephanie Street and Arroyo Grande Boulevard. All travel lanes in both directions are closed.
• Sunridge Heights Parkway and Seven Hills Drive intersection
• St. Rose Parkway and Seven Hills Drive intersection
• Sunset Road and Patrick Lane intersection
• Stephanie Street, between Sunset and Russell Roads,
Clark County officials also closed Stephanie Street at Monson Channel, north of Jimmy Durante Boulevard, as a result of flooding.
David Judd, manager of Anytime Fitness, 3255 St. Rose Parkway, said drivers were paying little heed to the intersection closing at St. Rose Parkway and Seven Hills Drive. He said today wasn't the worst rainfall he's seen at the gym – the business was flooded in after several consecutive days of rain in 2011. But he said efforts to divert water in the area weren't paying off as planned.
“The ditches that they just built around St. Rose (Parkway), those are absolutely useless," Judd said. "It’s flooded all around it.”
Up the road at the Sansone Business Plaza, 9005 S. Pecos Road, Lydia Toscano-Corbett said the parking lot was flooded with water from the morning rain.
She said the on her way to lunch Wednesday, she encountered washed-out landscaping rock all over the roads. A Liberty Mutual insurance agent, Toscana-Corbett said she worried about people thinking they could drive through standing water without consequence. She said she expected her office – and other insurance agents throughout the valley – would be busy Thursday fielding calls from people with damage to the cars and homes related to the storms.
“I’ve lived here most all of my life,” she said. “I don’t remember too many times when it’s rained this hard, this long, all over the valley.”
Through 4:40 p.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to 20 incidents of motorists trapped inside their vehicles, said Clark County spokesperson Dan Kulin, adding he knew of no injuries from any of those calls.
Most of the accidents on freeways involved vehicles hitting center medians and concrete walls because the driver did not slow down, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Loy Hixson. Thus far, all of the injuries reported are minor and few people have been transported to the hospital, he added.
One “domino-effect” accident involved four vehicles about 9 a.m. on the eastbound Las Vegas Beltway near Decatur Boulevard, Hixson said.
A single-vehicle accident also occurred on the transition ramp from the U.S. 95 to Interstate 15 after the driver lost control and stuck a wall, he said.
Hixson urged drivers to slow down to avoid hydroplaning and being “at the mercy of physics.”
Thousands of residents also experienced weather-related power outages. About 500 customers spread throughout the Las Vegas Valley were without power as of about 4:20 p.m., down from about 5,000 customers without power at 12:30 p.m., said Jennifer Davis, a spokesperson for NV Energy.
Power has been restored to about 14,000 customers in the area of Nellis Boulevard and Carey Avenue after an outage around 10 a.m. that lasted about 30 minutes, she said.
National Weather Service spokesman Ryan Metzger said McCarran International Airport had received 1.61 inches of rain since midnight – the second-highest amount recorded there is history. The highest was 2.58 inches measured in August 1957, he said.
During the 24-hour period ending at 4:30 p.m., the Clark County Regional Flood Control District measured 3.15 inches in the eastern valley at Pabco Road. It measured 2.95 inches at Flamingo Road and Nellis Boulevard, 1.14 inches in Spring Valley, .71 inches at Nellis Air Force Base, and .55 inches at the North Las Vegas Airport.
As of 5 p.m., flights at McCarran International Airport were back on schedule. Weather had caused both inbound and outbound flight delays since about 11 a.m., said McCarran spokesman Chris Jones said about 11:50 a.m.
The rain did not affect President Barack Obama's departure time from Nellis Air Force Base. Obama, who delivered a morning speech in North Las Vegas, arrived at 11:07 a.m. at Nellis and Air Force One was in the air by 11:20 a.m.