Flood-struck Moapa residents get their road back

MOAPA — The reopening of Interstate 15 put the town of Moapa on the path to recovery after floodwaters washed out much of the highway that connects the rural community to the rest of the world.

Traffic on I-15, north of Las Vegas, flowed smoothly after reopening, the Nevada Highway Patrol said on Saturday morning. This might have been due to drivers anticipating it to be closed and choosing different routes, NHP trooper Loy Hixson said.

The interstate, a major arterial for the region, wasn’t the only thing to shut down after the Monday flood. Muddy River Bar and Grill in Moapa closed on Monday. The business reopened Saturday.

”I was expecting maybe Monday or Tuesday before they got it open,” bartender Tina Marshall said.

That’s because Marshall, who lives in Moapa, saw how bad the damage was firsthand.

The flood tore up much of a median along the interstate, washing away whole chunks of roadway on a 2-mile stretch. The hardest hit area was between Moapa and Glendale, where about 4 inches of rain fell in two hours.

“I’m very thankful nobody got hurt,” Marshall said.

Janice Robinson, a Moapa resident, said it was a blessing that Las Vegas Paving was already working on the interstate when the big storm hit, allowing the repairs to start sooner.

Food in Robinson’s refrigerator was destroyed from water, but other than that, her trailer didn’t have any damages.

“The way I see it, nobody was killed, so we did pretty good,” Robinson said.

For now, neighbors in Moapa will continue cleaning up their homes in the aftermath of the flood.

“We just make the best of it,” Robinson said.

The Arco gas station off exit 90 near Moapa was open during the closure, attracting road crew workers and others seeking detours around the closed-off interstate.

“We have our road back,” gas station clerk Donna Anderson said.

But residents are still digging out. Roads are still coated with mud, and floodwaters still fill ditches.

Heidi Greig was cleaning out her mud-caked house in Moapa on Saturday.

“It’s a lot of mud,” she said. “We have to tear up all the floors.”

The flood damaged 91 homes in Moapa, including some on the Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation. Clark County also has assessed another 48 homes in Overton and Logandale for damage.

On Saturday afternoon, traffic flowed on I-15 with no major delays, despite the lane reduction and a 55 mph speed limit in the impacted areas.

Traffic is rerouted onto the northbound interstate while crews make repairs on the southbound side of the highway.

The southbound side is expected to open Sept. 22.

Big rig trucks heading north from Las Vegas between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. will need to take a detour on U.S Highway 93. The detour is north through Alamo and Caliente to state Route 319 through Panaca, then Utah Route 56 to hook up to 1-15 at Cedar City. Travel on the interstate by northbound big rigs is allowed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Southbound trucks can take the interstate without needing a detour.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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