Grand Canyon Flood "Pretty Scary"

In this photo released by the the National Park Service (NPS), a stranded rafter is lowered to shore by an NPS employee after being short hauled across the Colorado River Sunday Aug. 17, 2008 in the Grand Canyon. An earthen dam broke near the Grand Canyon early Sunday after heavy rains that forced officials to pluck hundreds of residents and campers from the gorge by helicopter. A private boating party of 16 people was stranded on a ledge at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River after flood waters carried their rafts away. The boaters were found uninjured and were being rescued from the canyon, whose floor is unreachable in many places except by helicopter. (AP Photo/National Park Service)
AP Photo/National Park Service
Approximately 50 tourists and Hualapai Tribe members spent the night in a shelter after being lifted out of a flood-devastated gorge off the side of the Grand Canyon by helicopters.

People were airlifted by helicopter after heavy rains caused an earthen dam gave way. Residents and campers were plucked from Supai, Arizona yesterday.

"Just like you would think in a movie, a flash flood comes out of nowhere, that's exactly what happened and we ran to higher ground, and it never went down after that," said evacuee Michael Rodgers.

Rafter Dylan Hennings described a "huge wall of water coming at you - it's pretty scary."

Dozens of people spent the night at an American Red Cross evacuation center set up in the Hualapai Tribal Gymnasium in nearby Peach Springs.

Tracey Kiest, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said the shelter was located in a gymnasium in Peach Springs. She said they were making preparations for the possibility of accomodating more people, adding that the shelter would be in operation as long as it was needed.

Some people who were believed to be in the side canyon along Supai Creek were unaccounted for after the flood struck on Sunday.

However, CBS News correspondent Claire Leka reported that so far no people have been reported injured.

The area of northern Arizona got 3 to 6 inches of rain Friday and Saturday and about 2 inches more on Sunday, said Daryl Onton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff. Early Monday, about 0.80 of an inch more fell on the area, the weather service said.

"That's all it took - just a few days of very heavy thunderstorms," Onton said.

A flash flood warning remains in effect for the area.

Rescuers planned to evaluate weather conditions and the level of flooding Monday morning before deciding when they could safely resume air evacuations, said Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge.

"We Lost Everything"

About 6 a.m. Sunday, the Redlands Earthen Dam about 45 miles upstream from the Hualapai village of Supai broke, park officials said. The dam isn't a "huge, significant" structure and its rupture was only one factor in the flooding, said Gerry Blair, a spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff's Department.

On Sunday, Cedar Hemmings and his small party returned from a hike to the spot where they had tied their rafts and discovered they were stranded by the flood.

"We were basically stuck up the canyon without our rafts," he said. "We had no supplies, no food and very little water, we lost everything."

Hemmings and his group were airlifted out of the scenic gorge by helicopter Sunday, along with about 170 other people.

Rescuers worked throughout the day to locate campers and Supai Village residents and evacuate them to the top of the canyon. About 400 Havasupai tribe members live in the village.

Many residents and campers chose to stay in Supai, Blair said. There were no confirmed reports of damage in Supai, which is on high ground, he said.

"We're not as concerned about it as we initially were," he said.

Some hiking trails and footbridges were washed out and trees were uprooted, according to park officials and the weather service.

Supai is about 75 miles west of Grand Canyon Village, the popular gateway to Grand Canyon National Park.

In 2001, flooding near Supai swept a 2-year-old boy and his parents to their deaths while they were hiking.