LAS VEGAS, Nevada—An epic thunderstorm swept drought-stricken Clark County in southeastern Nevada on July 28, flooding the streets of downtown Las Vegas and leaving thousands across the city without power.
“It was unreal,” said Kim B., who lives in a single-family home on Sixth Street about three miles away from the famous hotel and casino district along the Vegas Strip.
“My roof is flat—it was coming off like a waterfall,” she told The Epoch Times.
The floodwaters nearly made it to her front door, she added.
Unlike her experiences with torrential rains during monsoon season, “This time, it made it to my garage.”
On July 29, another powerful storm blew across the region, darkening the skies above iconic Caesar’s Palace in downtown Las Vegas, one of three large casinos impacted by the previous night’s deluge.
“Thank God we didn’t have a problem [with flooding],” Vickie Kelesis, owner of Vickie’s Diner in Las Vegas, told The Epoch Times.
“It was a hard rain, but we had no problems here.”
Even so, the storm seemed to be on her customers’ minds during the breakfast rush on July 30—the terrifying thunder and lightning, and rain that came down “in sheets”—amid the constant weather alerts.
“I wasn’t nervous, and I didn’t lose power, but it was something,” a waitress, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Epoch Times.
Seated at the counter, Byron Burgess of Las Vegas said he was out of town on July 28 and was catching up on the news of the storm on his cell phone.
“It does happen here in Vegas. It flash-floods all the time,” Burgess said.
“When it does happen, it goes crazy. Then all of a sudden, it’s over. It’s the monsoon season.”
Video posts on social media showed flooding inside three major casinos and parking garages on the Strip. At the same time, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino suffered a breach in a ceiling.
“I’ve been here 24 years, and Thursday’s storm is probably in the top five,” said an employee, who did not want his name used.
Local media reported that the storm knocked out power to over 7,000 homes due to the rain and wind gusts as high as 71 mph.
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue responded to 330 calls for service, “many related to the storm,” and rescued seven residents from swift floodwaters, the agency said in a statement.
First-responders also attended a house fire, 22 vehicle crashes, and 15 outside fires before the storm finally ended.
More Rain Predicted
The National Weather Service in Las Vegas predicted more rain over the weekend.
According to the Clark County Regional Flood Control District (CCRFCD), flash floods are common even in parched Southern Nevada.
“Yes, it’s a desert out there. Sure, it hardly rains. But when it does, it pours. July through September, the summer monsoon months, expect sudden downpours and rapid flash flooding,” the organization said on its website.
While most rainstorms only last a couple of hours, it’s a good idea to stay inside if it’s raining–especially when it’s flooding, the agency added.
The CCRFCD recommended avoiding driving during thunderstorms and turning around rather than risk a flooded street crossing.
“Turn around, don’t drown. Six inches of water is enough to cause you to lose control of your vehicle. One foot of water can float most cars. Nearly half of flood deaths happen in cars, trucks, or SUVs.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman praised the regional flood control agency and city first responders for keeping residents safe during the potentially dangerous storm.
“Las Vegas has beautiful weather, but we do have large storms in monsoon season. Knowing this, we have flood control infrastructure to quickly move water out of the city to Lake Mead,” Goodman posted on Twitter.
For Sixth Street resident Kim B., her problem is “that drain” in front of her house.
“It’s got smaller [drainage] slits. If it’s a windy rain—and it’s a flash flood—all these neighborhood trees that have olives get taken out and [the olives] stick in those holes—and they block it.”
Kim said that city highway crews were too busy dealing with massive downtown flooding to get to her street in time to alleviate the gathering floodwaters.
At one point, she estimated the water’s depth at about eight inches near her front door.
“The reason it comes to the door is that cars are stupid and push the water all out,” Kim said.
“It was bad. I didn’t even come out in it. I haven’t been driving in it. I stayed home. I grew up here. I know better.”
Allan Stein is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Arizona.