Storms pound US, causing mudslides, power outages

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As wildfires rage across the drought-stricken West, severe storms continue to threaten other regions.

In Arizona, heavy rains caused flooding that crippled infrastructure, closed roadways and led to the death of a woman at Grand Canyon National Park, officials said. 

Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was found in the Colorado River on Thursday after a flash flood struck during a rafting trip.

The city of Flagstaff and Coconino County opened a joint emergency operations center and Gov. Doug Ducey issued an emergency declaration for the area Friday.

“Severe post-wildfire flooding is creating dangerous challenges for communities in northern Arizona,” he said. “The flooding is causing road closures, damaging property and putting Arizonans’ safety at risk.”

A resident shovels back floodwater as monsoon rains fell on the Museum Fire burn area causing flooding from the Paradise Wash in east Flagstaff, Ariz. on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. The threat of flash flooding will remain through next week, the National Weather Service said, though the coverage will be more scattered than widespread. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

Some of the flooding occurred in neighborhoods previously impacted by the 2019 Museum Fire.

The National Weather Service said many areas in the Copper State have received more rain in the past month than in the entire 2020 monsoon season.

In nearby Utah, flooding in Iron County contributed to a train derailment on Thursday. 

The crash happened near Lund, injuring three workers, though not severely. 

In this photo provided by the Iron County Sheriff’s Department, emergency personnel remove an injured train worker from the scene of a derailment near Lund, Utah, on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Three workers on a freight train were injured when it derailed while crossing tracks covered with water in a remote part of southern Utah Thursday night, authorities said. The train, which had nearly 100 cars, tipped on its side after derailing near Lund, about 85 miles from the Nevada border. (Iron County Sheriff’s Dept. via AP)

Monsoon season has also hit New Mexico. Highway 70 near the state’s White Sands Missile Range reopened after rains covered the area in four feet of mud for more than seven miles. 

Paved roads were decimated as an inch and a half of rain fell in less than 15 minutes last Sunday.

One driver told the Las Cruces Sun News on Thursday that her car had suddenly been swept away in the mudslide. 

In Colorado, The Aspen Times reported Friday that mudslides and flash flood warnings had also led to the continual closures of Glenwood Canyon’s Interstate 70 due to the burn scar of last year’s 32,631-acre Grizzly Creek Fire.

Midwestern states have also been pounded by flash floods and thunderstorms over the last few days. 

In eastern Wisconsin, floodwaters from heavy rain restricted travel, closed roads and filled basements with water.

Detroit was drenched Friday, with water flooding highways and suburbs just three weeks after a storm wrecked thousands of basements.

A state police officer used a boat to rescue a man stranded downtown on top of his submerged car.

A semi-trailer drives through a flooded street, Friday, July 16, 2021, in Dearborn, Mich. Detroit area residents are still drying out their basements from the flooding last month, but now more flooding is on the horizon as a heavy rain front moves through southern Michigan. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The heat will exacerbate the drought felt through the region, increasing wildfire danger. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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