FERNLEY — Jesus Rodriguez was jolted awake early Saturday by his wife, who told him the street outside their house was filling with water.

"Flooding in the desert? I never thought it could happen here," Rodriguez said. "I thought she was crazy."

But within 20 minutes, the construction worker, his wife and their four children had waded through 3 feet of water, piled into their car and were trying to outrun the flood.

The car had gone only 10 feet before its engine died. "I told the kids everything would be OK," Rodriguez said.

Luckily, a good Samaritan in a passing pickup hauled Rodriguez and his family to safety.

Hundreds of Fernley residents evacuated their homes early Saturday after a 4 a.m. breach in an irrigation canal’s earthen levee sent rising waters into this high desert town 30 miles east of Reno.

At least 18 of the town’s 15,000 residents had to be evacuated by boats or helicopters provided by the Naval Air Station at Fallon and the Nevada Army National Guard, said Scott Huntley, division chief of the North Lyon County Fire Protection District. Local residents in fishing boats rescued many more. Huntley said the number of people rescued could approach 100.

No one suffered serious injuries, Huntley said. But about a square mile of land was flooded after a 30-foot section of the canal, which carries irrigation water from the Truckee River to farms in Fallon, failed.

An estimated 1,500 people ended up being displaced from their homes, said Huntley, who had incorrectly estimated the number to be as high as 4,000 earlier in the day.

The cause of the canal breach had not been determined Saturday, but Lyon County Undersheriff Jim Sanford said the 10-foot-wide earthen walls probably had been weakened by the nearly 2 inches of rain that fell in the area Friday and early Saturday.

"We have to look at the weather as the culprit," Sanford said.

Another stretch of the canal broke open during heavy rainfall on New Year’s Day in 1997.

Sanford said he was aware of a report that a small earthquake occurred about the time of the breach Saturday, but he discounted that as the cause.

As much as 10 feet of snow was expected to fall this weekend in the nearby Sierra Nevada, but less than inch had fallen in Fernley at the time of the breach.

Between 400 and 500 homes are in the flooded area, Huntley said. Water was 2 to 4 feet deep in an undetermined number of homes and 8 feet deep in some garages.

"I think the damages are going to be discovered more and more as we go on through the day," Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler said.

Water began receding by noon Saturday, but officials did not know when residents would be able to return home.

The Truckee River water flowing into the canal was diverted upstream, said Ernie Schank, president of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.

An evacuation center was set up at Fernley High School, but few of the 50 or so people at the center Saturday afternoon said they planned to spend the night. They said they preferred to stay with friends or at motels.

Evacuees told of damaged homes and lost possessions, but most were happy to be safe and dry.

"Everything at home is ruined, but we are alive," said Elizabeth Schinkel, who grabbed two days’ worth of clothing and a laptop computer before jumping in the back of someone’s pickup.

Alicia Rollins took even less, just her sons Tyler, 9, and Bradley, 8. She said someone rang the doorbell at 5 a.m. and shouted for them to leave.

Rollins had moved into her house a month ago and was unaware a canal was nearby.

"It never, ever occurred to me there could be a flood out here," she said. "I was in a state of shock."

Like others at the high school, Rollins wanted to return home as soon as waters subsided. Until then, she said, she will stay with her father in Reno.

Huntley and Cutler praised the evacuation effort at a news conference.

But one flooded resident, Dave Marshall, interrupted to ask why he had not been awakened and warned of the flooding in his neighborhood. Marshall and others said the city should have a reverse 911 system to call and warn of such dangers.

Sanford said the county had a reverse 911 system as recently as last year but discontinued it because of budget problems.

Gov. Jim Gibbons toured the flooded area, praised the rescue effort and promised to try to secure federal or state funding for victims. He declared a state of emergency for Lyon County.

"This is a big state," the governor said. "We are doing what we can."

While the governor soon will announce how he will deal with a $440 million shortfall in tax revenue, he said there are some state emergency funds that could be given to Fernley residents. He did not know how much the state could offer flood victims.

U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign said in a statement after a conference call with officials for the Federal Emergency Management Agency that FEMA officials would travel to Fernley to conduct a damage assessment on Monday.

Officials doubted many Fernley residents carried flood insurance. Flooding does not naturally occur in the area.

"I don’t have flood insurance," said Rodriguez, who planned to spend the night in a motel. "We are going to need money. I doubt we can go home for a week."

The board of the irrigation district is scheduled to meet Monday, and resident Bob Smith said flood victims will be turning out to demand assistance.

The flooding ruined the carpeting in his house, but he and his wife, Barb, were thankful it was not worse.

"You have to be thankful when you walk away from something like this," Smith said. "Everything else is just stuff."

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at evogel@ reviewjournal.com or (775) 687-3901. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
Record number participate in Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony
Three hundred sixty-five medical students received their white coats during the Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony at the M Resort in Henderson Monday. The ceremony was developed to honor students in osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy as they accept the professional responsibilities inherent in their relationship with patients. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop for school buses, urges CCSD
Clark County School District Police Department hold a mock traffic stop at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Work Begins at Las Vegas Community Healing Garden
Crews moved the wooden Remembrance Wall at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on South Casino Center Boulevard Monday. Construction on a permanent wall is set to begin within the week. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Man wounded outside Cottages apartment
Las Vegas police don't have a motive after a man was shot early Monday morning outside a northwest valley apartment. The man's mother called police to say her son had been shot. She called police around 1:15 a.m. Other people were inside the apartment but no one else was injured. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Ride new Interstate 11 segment in one minute
Interstate 11 opens to the public Thursday, providing sweeping views of Lake Mead, art deco-style bridges and a mural illustrating the construction of Hoover Dam. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miss El Tiempo 2019
Miss Teen El Tiempo and Miss El Tiempo 2019 were crowned at Sam's Town Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Woman Raises Awareness for Anxiety and Depression
Cassi Davis was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after the birth of her second child. After seeking help and support, she felt that there wasn't enough for support for those living day in and day out for those with mood disorders. She created the Crush Run, set for Sept. 22, to raise money for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and bring together a community of people who live with the same conditions she does. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas marks the opening of Tropical Parkway connector
The City of North Las Vegas, Nevada Department of Transportation and other partners celebrated the opening of the Tropical Parkway connector to Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway. The stretch of road will make access easier for distribution centers for Amazon, Sephora and other companies moving into an 1,100-acre industrial area rising near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bighorn sheep with West Temple in background at Zion National Park
A bighorn sheep walks through Zion National Park (National Park Service)
Adult Superstore location closes after 45 years
The Adult Superstore on Main Street has closed its doors for good after 45 years. The shop, which offered a multitude of adult toys, novelty items and movies, opened in 1973. Four other locations remain open. A note on the front door tells customers, “We can’t fully express our sorrow.” Adult Superstore was awarded Best of Las Vegas adult store by the Review-Journal in 2016 and 2017 .
Funeral held for Las Vegas corrections officer
Department of Public Safety Correctional Officer Kyle Eng died July 19 after a fight with an inmate at the Las Vegas Jail. A funeral was held for Eng at Canyon Ridge Christian Church Monday, July 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What Back-To-School Shopping Is Like For a CCSD Parent and Teacher
Laura LeBowsky, a CCSD special education teacher and mother of two, set out to shop for her children's supply lists at her local Walmart and Target. She was looking for deals to try to keep the total under $150, while also allowing Chloe, 8, and Brady, 6, some choice in what they wanted. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Businesses struggle to fill food manufacturing jobs
Chelten House is a family-owned food manufacturing company from New Jersey. They created a facility in Vegas five years ago and have struggled to find experienced workers in the area. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like