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Storm-Swollen River Floods Nevada Town

January 14, 2005|From Associated Press

OVERTON, Nev. — Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn declared a state of emergency in Clark County and toured this flooded southern Nevada town Thursday.

Before landing in Overton, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Guinn flew over a town awash with brown water spread across farm fields, horse corrals and rural neighborhoods.

Viewed from the air, he said, it was clear how far the Muddy River had surged over its banks.

"It's pretty devastating," Guinn said. "Especially for those who end up with water in their No. 1 investment -- their house or their business."

Clark County officials said that several hundred homes were in the flooded area.

For two days the residents of Overton prepared for the worst, filling sandbags and trying to shore up drainage areas as the Muddy River surged with excessive runoff from Western storms.

On Thursday, paved roads were invisible under a blanket of mud. High-water marks were visible 2 to 3 feet up the exterior walls of homes.

"I wanted to move somewhere warm, without rain. Instead I get floods," resident Don Toulouse said.

Toulouse, 51, a Nevada Power Co. employee, moved to Overton about a year ago from Elko, a northeast Nevada town that averages more than 2 feet of snow each winter.

Guinn said a team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was expected to tour the area Tuesday.

In Mesquite, a mine demolition expert detonated two cases of dynamite Thursday in the Virgin River in an unsuccessful attempt to coax the river back to its original course, Mayor Bill Nicholes said.

State authorities approved the effort to reroute the rain-swollen river that changed course Tuesday, he said.

The river flooded about 75 homes in the resort town on the Nevada-Arizona border. Three houses were left uninhabitable and 10 were badly damaged, Nicholes said. He estimated property damage at $20 million.

About 30 Mesquite residents were staying in free rooms at local hotel-casinos, along with about 230 people from nearby Arizona towns.

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