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OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Monsoon rains pummel Southwest, lead to flooding – coloradopolitics.com

UTAH

Hiker missing in flooding as monsoon hits Southwest

SPRINGDALE — Authorities searched for days for an Arizona woman reported missing after being swept away by floodwaters in Utah’s Zion National Park as strong seasonal rain storms hit parts of the U.S. Southwest.

National Park Service officials said rangers and members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team were in the Virgin River area on Aug. 21 looking for Jetal Agnihotri, 29, of Tucson.

They said Agnihotri was among several hikers who were swept off their feet on Aug. 19 by rushing water in the popular Narrows area in the park, known for its spectacular red-rock cliffs and narrow canyons, in southern Utah near the Arizona border.

All of the hikers except Agnihotri were found on high ground and were stranded until water levels receded.

Elsewhere in Utah, nighttime flooding on Aug. 20 in Moab, the gateway to Arches National Park, closed trails in the city the next day as crews assessed the damage.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park said about 150 tourists were evacuated on Aug. 20 after being stranded by rising water.

In Arizona, emergency crews rescued four hikers stranded in Sabino Canyon east of Tucson on Aug. 19 and helped 41 students and staff from Marana off school buses that got stuck in high water when the storms began to move in.

More than 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) of rain fell Saturday in the mountains northeast of Tucson, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain comes amid a drought that scientists say is the worst in the U.S. West in 1,200 years and aggravated by climate change.

ARIZONA

80 years later, Navajo Code Talker marks group’s early days

PHOENIX — It’s been 80 years since the first Navajo Code Talkers joined the Marines, transmitting messages using a code based on their then-unwritten native language to confound Japanese military cryptologists during World War II — and Thomas H. Begay, one of the last living members of the group, still remembers the struggle.

“It was the hardest thing to learn,” the 98-year-old Begay said on Aug. 13 at a Phoenix ceremony marking the anniversary. “But we were able to develop a code that couldn’t be broken by the enemy of the United States of America.”

Hundreds of Navajos were recruited by the U.S. Marines to serve as Code Talkers during the war. Begay is one of three who is still alive to talk about it.

The Code Talkers participated in all assaults the Marines led in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945 including Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu and Iwo Jima.

President Ronald Reagan established Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982 and the Aug. 14 holiday honors all the tribes associated with the war effort.

It’s also an Arizona state holiday and Navajo Nation holiday on the vast reservation that occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah.

NEBRASKA

CDC confirms child died of brain-eating amoeba

OMAHA — Federal health officials confirmed on Aug. 19 that a Nebraska child died from a rare infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a river near Omaha.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of the naegleria fowleri amoeba in the child, according to the Douglas County Department of Health in Omaha.

Health officials believe the child became infected while swimming on Aug. 14 in the Elkhorn River, a few miles west of Omaha. Authorities have not released the child’s name.

People are usually infected when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose while swimming in or diving into lakes and rivers. Other sources have been documented, including tainted tap water in a Houston-area city in 2020.

It is the second death in the Midwest this summer from primary amebic meningoencephalitis, an infection caused by the amoeba that has proved fatal in 97% of reported cases. A Missouri resident died of the infection in July after swimming at Lake of Three Fires in southwestern Iowa, health officials have said.

Symptoms of the infection include fever, headache, nausea or vomiting, progressing to a stiff neck, loss of balance, hallucinations and seizures.

The CDC says naegleria fowleri infections are rare, with about three cases in the United States every year. There were 154 cases reported between 1962 and 2021 in the U.S., with only four survivors.

In the U.S., infections from the amoeba typically occur in southern states because the amoeba thrives in waters that are warmer than 86 degrees Fahrenheit. But infections have migrated north in recent years, including two cases in Minnesota since 20

NAVAJO NATION

Oil spill stopped from reaching river tributary

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — An oil spill has been stopped from reaching a tributary to the San Juan River and clean-up work continues at Standing Redrock Creek, Navajo Nation officials said on Aug. 17.

They said the Capitol Operating Group had a release from a corroded pipeline between the salt water tank and an injection well located in Red Valley on Aug. 7. and up to 80 barrels of brine water was released.

Tribal officials said the brine water contained oil, brine, and saltwater and the release traveled over three miles through an unnamed drainage to the Standing Redrock Creek.

“We continue to monitor the situation together and we will continue to hold the responsible party, the Capitol Group, accountable and ensure that they provide the highest level of remediation as a result of the spill that occurred,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.

Tribal officials said the remediation was expected to continue for another week and included replacing the pipeline, treating the release site and unnamed drainage and collecting the contaminated soil in the creek bed.

They said berms and additional absorbent pads have been placed throughout the creek to collect any runoff from monsoon rains.

MONTANA

Foot found in Yellowstone hot spring linked to death

HELENA — Part of a human foot found in a shoe floating in a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park earlier this week is believed to be linked to the death of a person weeks earlier, park officials said on Aug. 19.

The July 31 death is being investigated but officials do not suspect foul play, park officials said in a statement. The statement did not disclose details about how the death is believed to have happened, identify the person who died or say why officials do not suspect foul play.

The shoe was recovered from the park’s Abyss Pool on Aug. 16 after an employee spotted it, park officials said.

News of that discovery led a man from Maryland to contact the National Park Service to report that he and his family had spotted a shoe, floating sole up, in the hot spring on the morning of Aug. 11.

Abyss Pool, west of the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake, is 53 feet deep and the temperature is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, park officials said.

Park visitors are warned to stay on the boardwalks and trails in thermal areas, where some of the pools and springs have a thin, breakable crust covering the scalding and sometimes acidic water.

At least 22 people are known to have died from hot spring-related injuries in and around the 3,471-square-mile national park since 1890, park officials have said.

Navajo Code Talker Samuel Sandoval dies; 3 left from group

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