Heavy downpours prompt flash flood warnings across the country

Weather

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — People across the country have experienced flash flooding this week, with at least one instance turning deadly.

In Utah, heavy rain and hail created a river of mud in Zion National Park Tuesday.

“It swept cars down the boulevard along with debris, there are dumpsters in the road, rocks, all kinds of things,” said Britt Ballard with the Springdale Police Department.

In this photo provided by the National Park Service is the scene after a flash flood in Zion National Park, Utah on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (National Park Service via AP)

Alexa Griffin and her family were on a hike before the flash flood.

“We heard the thunder so we decided out of safety to come back down,” Griffin said.

The park had to be closed temporarily while construction crews cleared the debris, but police say no one was injured.

In Ohio, Thursday-morning rains swept a truck off the roadway. First responders rescued the driver before treating them for injuries.

Austin ISD teacher Christina Garcia-Mata, 39, died during a hiking accident in El Paso this week. (Akins ECHS Photo)
Austin ISD teacher Christina Garcia-Mata, 39, died during a hiking accident in El Paso this week. (Akins ECHS Photo)

Parts of west Texas, like Midland, were also hard hit with businesses now under water.

In El Paso, a hiker was killed after being washed away in floodwaters. The hiker was a popular teacher at an Austin high school.

“She was passionate about what she did,” said former student Miguel Garcia Zuniga. “She cared about our personal success. She was what every teacher should look up to be.

Texas State Parks director Rodney Franklin says it only takes a few inches of fast-moving water to sweep you off your feet.

“Once you lose your balance, anything can happen,” Franklin said. “You could bump your head, get caught on a root, or something like that so the best advice I could give is just to turn around from those situations and stay on high ground.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the state. Deaths most often occurring from blunt-force trauma or drowning.

Experts say people should be weather aware, avoid areas that are prone to flooding and have a plan in place.

NewsNationNow.com spoke with Glen Merrill, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about the flooding at Zion National Park. See the interview in the player below.

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