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Floodwaters wash away northeast valley desert landscape

Floodwater took its toll across the Las Vegas Valley last weekend.

At the base of Frenchman Mountain on the far northeast side, the water and destruction came swiftly at the Madonna Drive home of Renee Paterson and Fernando Gomez.

The two-story white residence sits on a down slope high above the valley floor.

Heavy rain and gravity combined to send floodwater rushing downhill at a velocity likely faster than the vehicle speed limit. There are no Regional Flood Control rain gauges nearby, but one more than a mile away and downhill showed more than 3 inches during the intense mid-afternoon Saturday thunderstorm.

The torrent mangled metal fences, ripped out landscape foundations and tore away at concrete walls — nearly everything in its path.

“First it was the front yard, then the back, under the garage and foundation and it really went to town,” Paterson said, recounting what her mother-in-law witnessed about 3:30 p.m. Saturday. “She was at home and then we could not get back to her.”

After washing away the desert landscaping to leave tree roots exposed, several feet of mud and debris was deposited everywhere.

Not wanting the mud to dry and cake to exacerbate the massive problem, family and several friends went to work after photographing the damage.

“Four hours on Saturday night, 10 hours on Sunday and five hours on Monday,” Paterson said of efforts by six people. “The front and back yard are smoked.”

The Hickey Elementary teacher worries the trees may not survive because of the exposed roots. A pet desert tortoise has recovered after the deluge.

Mother Nature played the biggest role in the damage, but Paterson said she believes two storm drains that were plugged with vegetation may have added to the troubles.

“My husband and a neighbor climbed down there (to the storm drains) with pick axes,” she said in an attempt to to clear passages for the water.

The financial toll? Gomez estimated it at $50,000.

“We are not in a flood zone,” Paterson said. “The front page of our policy says it is not flood insurance. We are looking for loopholes.”

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Marv_in_Vegas on X.

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