Thunderstorms in the Southwest eased Thursday but flash flood waters isolated a California town and washed over roads leading to Death Valley. Searchers recovered the body of a boy swept away from a policeman who jumped into a flooded gulch to save him.
The 250 residents of Keeler, Calif., who were airlifted out of the Sierra town Wednesday stayed away from their homes.
'The floods just inundated the little town,' said Inyo County Sheriff's Deputy Garey Smith. 'The town is still cut off and Highway 136 is closed.'
California storms in the last week have caused $25 million in flood damage to the China Lake Naval Weapons Center and another $5 million damage to houses and businesses in adjacent Ridgecrest.
In New Mexico, 2 inches of rain soaked Tucumcari and searchers recovered the body of an 8-year-old Albuquerque boy pulled out of a police officer's rescuing arms by a swift current and swept down a flooded arroyo.
James Weir was playing in an arroyo Wednesday when flood waters created by 1 inches of rain in less than an hour engulfed him. Police officer Gary Faerber had Weir in his grasp before the boy was pulled away by the water, estimated to be 8 feet deep in some areas, authorities said. Faerber was rescued four miles downstream by another officer.
'I tried to keep the little boy up but I couldn't after a while,' Faerber said. 'That's beyond swimming -- it's just survival. I consider myself a very good swimmer but you don't swim in there -- you just survive.'
A woman washed from her Lake of the Woods, Calif., living room was listed in serious condition with fractures and abrasions. Eugenia Foust, 58, and her husband, Glenn, 60, were pushed out of their living room by tons of mud and debris Tuesday night. They were found about 300 yards away. Foust was hospitalized in good condition.
Even though the rainfall eased, water covered the roads leading to Death Valley and authorities at nearby Shoshone, where storms knocked out power for three days, said more bad weather was on the way.
'Shoshone got its power back (Wednesday) night,' Park Ranger Ron Terry said. 'All the roads in the park were closed for awhile. Right now, we have clear blue skies but we have been advised there's another storm on the way.'
The Civil Air Patrol flew dry ice to Shoshone's 100 residents to keep food fresh during the outage.