With tropical storm, rain is last thing tunnel people in Las Vegas want to see

Aug 22, 2023, 7:00 PM

Members of Cal Fire Pilot Rock 6 crew, out of Crestline, Calif., clear mud off the side of the road...

Members of Cal Fire Pilot Rock 6 crew, out of Crestline, Calif., clear mud off the side of the road in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, in Yucaipa, Calif. Scientists figure a natural El Nino, human-caused climate change, a stubborn heat dome over the nation’s midsection and other factors cooked up Hilary’s record-breaking slosh into California and Nevada. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SALT LAKE CITY — About 1,500 homeless people reside in hundreds of miles of tunnels underneath Las Vegas, according to 8 News Now. In a desert, the last thing these underground dwellers want to see is rain, which can quickly turn into flash flooding.

Tropical Storm Hilary brought flooding Monday and Tuesday. It was the first tropical storm to hit Southern California since 1997. While Hilary drenched California, it soaked Las Vegas, too.

Hilary moves through western US with historic amount of rainfall

Las Vegas built 700 miles of flood channels and 106 basins in 35 years to handle flash floods.

David Marlon, counselor and CEO of Vegas Stronger, joins Dave & Dujanovic to say he has met people who have lived in the tunnels for more than 10 years, where there is no clean water or electricity.

“It’s surprising that right underneath our huge casinos and resorts, we have these underground cities,” Marlon said.

The tunnels are 7 feet tall and between 20 and 30 feet wide,” he said.

He said when it rains, there is nowhere for the water to go except into the channels that divert and drain all that moisture into the tunnels.

Life in Las Vegas tunnels 

“There’s generally open drug use and kind of more criminal behavior.”

Because of their desire to use drugs, some of the tunnel people have become “treatment resistant,” he said. “It’s certainly a dangerous . . . it’s a dangerous place.”

Debbie Dujanovic asked if there is anywhere these tunnel people can go to get help.

“We do have available shelter beds, places like the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center [and] at places like the Salvation Army,” Marlon said.

He said his team goes down to visit people living in the more popular villages with large congregations.

“When our teams go out to visit them, we generally go to the busier places to try to convince folks and motivate people to get well and come with us to either go to detox or the hospital or to a shelter,” Marlon said.


Tornado conditions exist on Tuesday for large swath of Utah


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With tropical storm, rain is last thing tunnel people in Las Vegas want to see