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April 24, 2014

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Cleanup focus of activities after record-setting rain

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Steve Marcus

A Nevada Department of Transportation road crew works to clear the roadway at the I-215 eastbound off-ramp to the airport connector Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Run off from heavy rains filled the roadway with mud and debris.

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 | 9:39 p.m.

Storm Cleanup on I-215

A Nevada Department of Transportation crew works to clear the roadway at the I-215 eastbound off-ramp to the airport connector Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Run off from heavy rains filled the roadway with mud and debris. Launch slideshow »

Rainstorm Rescues

Las Vegas Firefighters escort a man out of the flooded intersection of E. Sahara Avenue and Winterwood Boulevard after his vehicle became stranded, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Flooding in east Las Vegas

A Knudson Middle School student hangs onto a tree after falling down and being dragged by  floodwater near Eastern and Sahara avenues, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Rainstorm Hits The Valley Hard

Wind turns a woman's umbrella inside out in front of Planet Hollywood during a rainstorm Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Thunderstorm Floods the Strip

Heavy thunderstorms rolled over the valley in the early afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, soaking pedestrians on the strip as seen from Planet Hollywood.

A day after the Las Vegas Valley recorded it largest single-day rainfall in September, the focus for many shifted to cleanup.

The aftermath of Tuesday’s rainstorms – the official National Weather Service measurement taken at McCarran International Airport was 1.18 inches of rain – stretched public works crews thin Wednesday, said Joe Rajchel, department general services manager with Henderson’s Public Works’ Department.

Crews got up at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning to clear debris off the road, Rajchel said. Most of the debris consistsed of rocks and branches, although trash cans and traffic cones may have drifted along streets in the runoff.

Rajchel said it would take a couple of weeks until everything was cleaned, however, all Henderson streets are passable.

Four North Las Vegas intersections that flooded Tuesday have since been cleared of water and cleaned, said city spokeswoman Juliet Casey. Storm drain covers that came off in the area of North Aliante Parkway and West Grand Teton Drive also have been replaced.

Floodwaters in North Las Vegas were moderate and subsided almost as quickly as they rose, she added.

“In the city, it’s pretty much business as usual,” said city of Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke. Stewart Avenue saw the worst flooding in the city.

Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said the county’s building department deployed 10, two-person teams to assess the flood damage of homes and other structures. The teams found that more than 40 homes near Sahara Avenue and Nellis Boulevard sustained damage mainly to the carpeting, furnishings and personal items. But there was only a minimal amount of structural damage.

Welling said work crews also worked to clear debris on the roads, and as of 2 p.m., Cactus Avenue near Radcliff Street in the southeast valley remains closed.

There were no reports of major damage to highways traversing the valley, said Damon Hodge, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation. However, crews continued to clear gravel along Lake Mead Parkway and Boulder Highway, he said.

Wednesday morning long lines formed to enter the Regional Justice Center. Only one of the center's three magnetometers was functioning after floodwaters came into the building Tuesday, said Mary Ann Price, 8th Judicial District Court information officer. Magnetometers are the X-ray machines that screen visitors who enter the building. Price said the nonworking magnetometers have been repaired and running since about 3:30 p.m. and long lines have since disappeared.

The center was closed to non-essential business Tuesday afternoon due to flooding. Ceiling leaks also caused water damages on the first floor, Price added.

She still advises visitors with non-essential business to avoid arriving Thursday during the peak hours of 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Clark County School District, with 357 schools, was spared from any major damages, spokeswoman Melinda Malone said. Minor flooding was reported in the hallways of Hyde Park Middle School and three kindergarten classrooms at Kit Carson Elementary. Students affected by flooding at Kit Carson were moved to other classrooms.

Tim Sutko, environmental mitigation manager for the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, said he was not aware of any failures in the flood-control system during Tuesday’s storms. He did say a concrete slab on the bottom of the Flamingo Wash was lifted by floodwaters and allowed water to enter the National Golf Club, 1911 E. Desert Inn Road.

The American Red Cross assisted several families whose homes were flooded Tuesday, said Lloyd Ziel, public information officer.

Volunteers were knocking on doors Wednesday morning in four neighborhoods, included at homes on Walton Heath Avenue and Moortown Street that were asked overnight to evacuate. The volunteers were asking people about their needs, provide pamphlets on flood recovery and inquiring if they needed shelter.

Sutko said it was too early to tell how much water passed through the washes, but that an estimated 10,000 cubic feet per second flowed through the Las Vegas and Flamingo washes and 4,000 cubic feet per second went through the Sloan Channel.

With Tuesday’s rainfall, 2012 now is regarded as the third wettest summer on record in Las Vegas, said Chris Stumpf, an NWS meteorologist.

Since June 23, Las Vegas has received 3.63 inches of rain -- the majority of it on Tuesday and on Aug. 22. The 1.61 inches on Aug. 22 was the second most recorded rainfall on a given day in Las Vegas since the National Weather Service began keeping such statistics.

It's been 28 years since Las Vegas has experienced this much summer rain. In summer 1984, officials measured a record 4.16 inches of rain. The only other summer in which the valley has seen this much rain was in 1955, when 3.71 inches was measured, Stumpf said.

In all of 2011, Las Vegas received 2.34 inches of precipitation.

Stumpf said he expected a return to dry weather as summer comes to a close on Sept. 21.

No rain is expected for the rest of the week as drier air moves into the valley, said Ryan Metzger, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected reach the into low 90s during daytime hours and dip into the 70s at night the rest of the week.

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