Neighbors help clear mud from Topaz Lodge entrance |

Neighbors help clear mud from Topaz Lodge entrance

Crews clean up mud and debris outside the Topaz Lodge and Casino on Tuesday morning.
Jim Grant | Record Courier

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.

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.

“Transportation staff truly made Herculean efforts to remove the more than 5 feet of accumulated mud on the roadway,” she said. “We also appreciate the assistance of CalTrans who provided a loader to assist with mudslide debris removal.”

About 200 yards of the southernmost mudslide affecting the highway was within the boundaries of Caltrans District 9, Caltrans spokeswoman Christine Knadler said.

“Caltrans District 9’s Sonora and Bridgeport crews were on hand actively working to direct traffic and clear the roadway for safe passage.”

Ragonese said the prospect of additional storms will keep Nevada tra nsportation workers with their equipment in the vicinity during the rest of the week.

“With the soil in the area being very saturated, and continued rain showers forecast through the week, NDOT will stage equipment in the area and continue to monitor road and weather conditions,” she said. A few strong thunderstorms are likely to strike Western Nevada today as they develop over the Sierra and move off the crest, according to the National Weather Service.

Thunderstorms are expected to develop after 11 a.m. today and continue in Eighteen hours after closing due to the 100-foot mudslide, Highway 395 reopened at 12:25 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, .68 inches of rain fell near Topaz Lake over 30 minutes from 6:07-6:37 p.m. Monday.

By 6:30 p.m. multiple callers to 911 were reporting being stuck between three mudslides that crossed the highway. One group was trapped in a vehicle on Topaz Lake Park Road with water up to the running boards, according to emergency traffic. There were around 20 vehicles trapped on the highway.

The slide was 100 feet wide with mud 4-5 feet deep in places, according rescuers.

East Fork firefighters and Douglas County deputies were first to arrive to find water and mud flowing across the highway and into the Topaz Lodge.

Battalion Chief Scott Fraser served as incident commander, directing firefighters to check on occupants of the vehicles to ensure none were in danger of being washed into Topaz Lake.

Nevada Department of Transportation equipment started to arrive around 7:30 p.m. and workers were able to open one lane so they could escort the trapped motorists north into Douglas County.

Meanwhile on the southern side of the flood, California Highway Patrol, to the evening. They are likely to continue through the rest of the week until Sunday when they begin to dissipate.

County emergency officials are touring the neighborhood of Topaz Lake to determine the extent of the damage.

“Emergency personnel are doing further assessment to homes and county infrastructure below the lodge and along Topaz Park Road,” Douglas County Emergency Manager Tod Carlini said.

On Monday night personnel reported there was no obvious damage to homes in the neighborhood.

A lightning strike started the 9,000-acre Slinkard fire on Aug. 29, 2017.

The fire burned right down to Highway 395 west of the Topaz Lodge, where flames could be seen from the parking lot.

It took nearly 600 firefighters a week to extinguish the blaze.