PAGE — Little more than 24 hours after Highway 89 in Page became a roaring river of mud, the Arizona Department of Transportation had the road running again.
Around-the-clock work had the surface cleared and ruptured asphalt removed. Traffic began running smoothly through the quarter-mile section between the Wal-Mart supercenter and Maverik Country Store by 8 p.m. Saturday.
“They did a heck of a job down there,” Mayor Bill Diak said. “It looks beautiful.”
Friday afternoon, a flash flood sent huge volumes of water, mud and debris through the Honey Draw from a source just south of Highway 98. A culvert just beneath the highway north of Haul Road was swamped and Highway 89 became a muddy mess with a whirlpool of brown water eddying into the collapsing asphalt. A dedicated right-turn lane evaporated and the road was shut down.
No injuries were reported. Damage appeared to be limited to the highway and the Maverik parking lot. Floodwater also rushed behind Maverik in a scene captured on a widely viewed video made Saturday by Big Water, Utah native David Rankin.
The parking lot and pumps of Maverik, rebuilt following a fire in 2007, were flooded but the store was open for business Saturday. Through the daylight hours Saturday, the road was blocked from Tunnel Road at Maverik to Haul Road, allowing access to Wal-Mart and other businesses.
Diak said his phone rang until 10:30 Friday night with calls of concern from up and down the Arizona Department of Transportation hierarchy and from other concerned parties. ADOT had a large presence in Page for the paving of Navajo Route 20. Some of the workers have reportedly been staying at the Days Inn & Suites, located just south of the flooded area.
Diak said the buckled section of pavement was torn out and replaced with new blacktop. Highway 98 and Haul Road, both closed Friday night, were open Saturday.
The Lower Antelope Canyon also flooded Friday. The canyon was the site of the loss of 10 lives to a flash flood in 1997, but the area is now evacuated during threats of thunderstorms.
Page received just 0.21 inches of rain Friday evening at Page Municipal Airport on the northeast end of Page, according to the National Weather Service in Bellemont, which had said earlier that radar indicated 2 to 3 inches of rain in the greater Page area.