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Experts: US 95 at high risk for flooding | News

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Experts: US 95 at high risk for flooding
Photo courtesy: John Curtin

LAS VEGAS -- Monday’s flood caused traffic troubles around southern Nevada, but the scene was particularly bad on U.S. 95 near Mt. Charleston. Cars were turned over on their sides and a shuttle bus was stranded, caught in nearly two feet of rushing water.

The highway was shut down for hours, leaving drivers stranded.

The area is at high risk for being shut down every time it floods. Nevada Department of Transportation engineers say it is where runoff from the mountain ends up.

Monday's rushing waters made U.S. 95 downright dangerous for drivers. People were nearly taken out by the current and two cars were literally swept away.

A shuttle bus was also stranded in the rising waters, full of mud and debris.

As Nevada Highway Patrol troopers shut down both sides of the highway, drivers were trying to figure out what was going on.

"I guess the road down there is flooded. I guess it's about 30 cars that are stuck there and one is overturned, we were told. So there's no way around it," stranded driver Lissett Aguilar said.

They remained stranded for hours.

"I was told there is no timeline," Deborah O'Camp, who was caught in the storm, said.

NDOT crews were put on alert as soon as the storm hit Monday afternoon. Engineers say they knew it would make for a dangerous situation.

“The raindrops just in themselves have enough force, picking up the dust and making it into mud and then it starts draining to the lowest spot," NDOT engineer Mary Martini said.

Martini says this stretch of highway is the "lowest area" near the mountain, which puts it at high risk for flooding and getting closed down every time there is a major rain storm.

“Our maintenance guys started rolling right away,” Martini said.

By Tuesday, the water was gone but crews must now repair erosion to U.S. 95, including big portions of the median.

Martini says the highway is safe to drive on, but it will take a few weeks to get everything back to normal.

NDOT is now preparing for the possibility of more floods as monsoon season isn't over yet.