The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is providing US$11.7 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds for the US Department of Interior’s National Park Service to offset the costs of repair work needed following recent flood damage in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley is normally one of the driest places on earth

“The emergency funding we’re sending will help quickly reopen roads and remove storm debris in Death Valley and improve access in and around the park for workers, visitors and the surrounding community,” says US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This level of disaster, formerly considered an every-thousand-year phenomenon, gives us renewed urgency in the steps we’re taking to fight the climate crisis and to make our infrastructure more resilient.”

“The Federal Highway Administration is working closely with the National Park Service to repair the damage caused by the flooding at Death Valley National Park,” says Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The quick release funding we are providing will help get those repairs done as soon as possible and better prepare this area for future floods.”

This NASA image shows Death Valley in July 2022

Death Valley National Park has approximately 1,000 total miles of roads, including 200 miles of paved roadways. The storm that took place in the park on 5 August 2022 set a new rainfall daily record, with the equivalent of almost an entire year’s worth of precipitation in a few hours causing extensive damage to roads, buildings and utilities. National Weather Service meteorologists have described the weather event as a “1000-year event” meaning it was a 0.1% chance of happening within any given year. All routes within the park had to be closed due to extreme debris on the roads and sections of major roadways were completely wiped out.

In August 2022 flooded areas of Death Valley are clearly visible from space in this NASA image

FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding to states, territories, tribes, and federal land management agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” Emergency Relief funds are an initial instalment of funds toward restoring this essential transportation link. Additional funds needed to repair damages to Death Valley National Park will be supported by the Emergency Relief program through nationwide funding allocations. FHWA is also providing technical assistance, conducting site assessments, and administering emergency contracts for the National Park Service.

Images: NASA, AdobeStock

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