Situation still 'fragile' in Grand Canyon village

PHOENIX (AP) - August 20, 2008 Some evacuated residents of the American Indian village of Supai were allowed to return Tuesday. Authorities planned to fly them in by helicopter after creeks overflowing with runoff from severe thunderstorms washed away trails during the weekend.

Coconino County Emergency Manger Sherrie Collins said crews shipped horse feed to Supai for livestock, and they'll likely follow up later in the week with meals that were donated in nearby Peach Springs.

"They'd like to have them for storage," Collins said. "Things are pretty fragile down there. The infrastructure is all intact, but if they have another flood, it may not hold a second time."

Supai is located near the bottom of the canyon in an area west of Grand Canyon National Park headquarters. It's an eight-mile hike from the nearest parking lot, dropping straight down on a winding canyon trail.

About 400 people live there year-round. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said after touring the area by air Monday that the most important task was to restore a pack trail that is a main path for delivering mail, food and other supplies.

Rescue crews on Monday tracked down 11 hikers from two families that were the last remaining tourists unaccounted for, said Coconino County Sheriff's Department spokesman Gerry Blair.

Authorities are still getting calls from people who believe their loved ones may be in the canyon, Blair said. But everyone who followed the rules and signed in at the bottom of the trail into the remote area has been evacuated.

"The only other possibility that exists is someone who went down there who didn't sign up," Blair said Tuesday.

Crews checked the hiking trails and surrounding gorges by helicopter and foot again Tuesday and will do a more comprehensive ground search when the flood waters recede in a few days, Blair said.

"It's just very dangerous right now," Blair said.

Thunderstorms dumped 3 to 6 inches of rain on the entire region Friday and Saturday and about 2 inches more on Sunday. The storms sent a rush of water through parts of the canyon.

Supai sits in a region popular with hikers and river runners, with towering blue-green waterfalls.

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