Neighbors aid Topaz Lodge clean up |

Neighbors aid Topaz Lodge clean up

The Topaz Lodge is open for business after a big flood blocked the front entrance of the South County casino.

While floodwaters and mud closed the front of the Topaz Lodge, Manager Rick Ross said the casino remained open and customers remained on the main floor the entire time.

Ross said when the deluge came, they barricaded the front of the casino, but the flood never entered the casino.

“No water came into the lodge,” he said. “We had five locals from the community who stayed past midnight to remove the mud from the front of the building. A couple of community members brought their own equipment and moved mud from the front of the casino.”

Ross said the casino entrance was cleared by 5 p.m. Tuesday, thanks to residents who pitched in.

“It was somewhat of a miracle to accomplish,” he said. “The community support was overwhelming. I had one man who must have asked me 10 times if he could help. They brought sand down to the fire department and he came back and worked five hours hauling the bags up to Topaz Lodge.”

He said the Lodge never closed, but that people had to use the rear entrance.

The flood hit during dinner when the Lodge serves prime rib.

Ross said they serve about 100 prime ribs, and that it was possible there were 200 people inside.

But he said occupants weren’t evacuated.

“The Topaz Lodge did not suffer any impacts to business and is up and running, including the restaurant,” County Spokeswoman Melissa Blosser said. “It is preparing for the Memorial Day Weekend and is encouraging visitors to visit the lodge.”

A 100-foot wide mud slide came rushing down from last year’s Slinkard Fire burn after a downpour over the area at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, trapping about 20 motorists on the highway.

Highway 395 was closed for 18 hours as a score of Nevada workers and 15 pieces of equipment cleared 5-foot deep deposits of mud from the highway overnight, according to Nevada Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Meg Ragonese.

Topaz Lake is a popular Memorial Day holiday spot for anglers and campers.

However, primitive campsites are closed due to high water, and the county’s developed campsites are booked for the weekend.

Federal officials are asking that residents camping during the weekend be careful with campfires.

“Across the U.S., nearly nine out of 10 wildfires are human-caused with illegal and unattended campfires being the biggest source of human-caused wildfires,” said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Herron. “In 2007, an illegal, abandoned campfire was the cause of the Angora Fire, which burned more than 250 homes, 231 acres of private property and 3,072 acres of National Forest land near South Lake Tahoe.”

Law enforcement officers charged with keeping roads safe in the Eastern Sierra will be patrolling through the weekend.

“Troopers, deputies, and officers will be stopping drivers for different traffic offenses and issuing citations for seatbelt violations through May 31 throughout Northern Nevada,” Trooper Matthew McLaughlin said. “Law enforcement within Nevada continues to see senseless deaths and injuries sustained from car crashes that can be avoided by simply wearing your seatbelt.”

California Highway Patrol officers will also be on the lookout this holiday weekend.

“As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend is a busy time on California roadways,” Officer Michael Brown said. “To help segue into summer safely, the California Highway Patrol will conduct a Maximum Enforcement Period.”

From 6 p.m. today through midnight Memorial Day, the CHP will be on the lookout for impaired and distracted drivers, as well as those who are not buckled up.