Tropical Storm Hilary brought heavy rainfall to the Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, and greater Inyo County, raising creek levels and causing flooding across the region, according to Manzanar National Historic Site.
Beginning the night of Aug. 20, Shepherd Creek, to the north of Manzanar National Historic Site, breached its banks multiple times. From Aug. 21 through 22, all of Shepherd Creek flowed uncontrolled into the historic site for more than 24 hours.
The water damaged sections of the 3.2-mile self-guiding tour road and site boundary roads. Flooding carried mud into four Japanese gardens: Merritt Park, Block 34 Garden (San-shi-en), the Hospital Garden, and the Arai Fish Pond in Block 33.
Historic orchards, camp-era roads, and landscape features were damaged, and several archeological sites were washed away or buried. An assessment of the damage to cultural resources is in progress.
None of the site’s buildings were impacted. Thanks to immediate efforts from Manzanar maintenance and cultural resources staff, the Cemetery and I-Rei-To (Soul Consoling Tower) were protected from any major impacts.
Manzanar staff, with assistance from two equipment operators from Yosemite National Park, immediately began assessment, stabilization, and recovery efforts along the tour road. CalFire /California Department of Corrections Rehabilitation (Owens Valley Conservation Camp #26) fire crews helped remove mud and debris from Merritt Park.
As flood recovery continues, the Manzanar Visitor Center, historic entrance, administration area, and Block 14 exhibits are open to the public. The remainder of the site is closed until further notice due to water damage and safety concerns.
For more information, call (760) 878-2194 or visit www.nps.gov/manz.