The torrential storm that caused the deadly mudslide in California is leaving a path of destruction in other Western states, bringing flooding that has gobbled up houses and roads and forced hundreds to flee.
The heaviest flooding was concentrated in the area where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet. No serious injuries were reported, but one man was missing in Utah. A skier was missing for a third day in the deep snow of rugged western Colorado.
In California, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger surveyed the devastation caused by a huge mudslide that killed at least 10 people in the town of La Conchita. The overall death toll in California has reached 28.
Floodwaters from a swollen river rose in Overton, Nevada, about 50 miles from Las Vegas, even as evacuated residents started returning home.
An estimated 100 homes were flooded and 350 had been evacuated in the area. A police helicopter had to rescue five people, including two children, when they became trapped by rising water.
In Utah, Jenny Olsen tuned into the news to watch the home she and her husband had inhabited since September fall into the Santa Clara River. The home was one of five on a cul-de-sac devoured by the record floodwaters that have ravaged southern Utah since Monday.
“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t,” Jenny Olsen said Wednesday from a St George hotel room. ”We thought we might lose the back yard. We never thought that the whole house would go. We lost everything.”
Emergency officials sent 45 tons of sand, 2,000 sandbags and other assistance to Overton. Officials of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, had declared an emergency in response to the flooding.
Roaring waters also snatched 21 parked freight cars from a nearby Union Pacific train.
In Arizona, some residents started returning home to the Beaver Dam area in the far north-western corner of the state as the sky cleared, but getting there was tricky.
An 80ft stretch of the main road had been washed out and emergency crews were at work grading a 22-mile detour along a dirt road for the area’s 1,400 residents. Electricity, phones, drinking water and sewers had been severed in parts of the community.
The flooding damaged or destroyed 22 homes in Beaver Dam and nearby Littlefield, said Jennifer McNally, a county health official.
Across Arizona, estimates of storm-related damages exceeded £3 million, a state emergency management spokeswoman said.