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About 150 people evacuated from Carlsbad Caverns National Park


Nearly 200 visitors and park staff were safely evacuated after they were stranded at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for nearly nine hours on Saturday.In a statement released on Sunday, Chief Ranger Laura Steele said park rangers initially began the process of evacuating the park around 2 p.m. Saturday, due to thunderstorm activity at the park. About an hour later, the decision was made to issue a shelter in place, inside the visitors center."There was no signs or anything like that warning us about flash flooding or anything," said Michael Conteas. The Albuquerque resident had brought his children to see the tourist attraction for the first time. "Children were upset. My wife was very, very nervous. Everyone was pretty much distraught."Albuquerque residents Robert and Stephanie Saavedra were also among those stranded at the Caverns, with their three children. Stephanie said they were about halfway done with the tour, when park officials gave the evacuation order. They made a 20-minute walk back out to the visitor center building. The family soon discovered that the road was impassable."We've been asking about food and water, since we have three small kids," Stephanie Saavedra said. "They don't even know about food and water for us. We're just walking around and waiting."The family told Action 7 News that the staff at the tourist attraction gave them food, but they had to pay for it. They also said the caverns ran out of food, so some people were unable to eat.Carlsbad Caverns remains closed.

Nearly 200 visitors and park staff were safely evacuated after they were stranded at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for nearly nine hours on Saturday.

In a statement released on Sunday, Chief Ranger Laura Steele said park rangers initially began the process of evacuating the park around 2 p.m. Saturday, due to thunderstorm activity at the park. About an hour later, the decision was made to issue a shelter in place, inside the visitors center.

"There was no signs or anything like that warning us about flash flooding or anything," said Michael Conteas. The Albuquerque resident had brought his children to see the tourist attraction for the first time. "Children were upset. My wife was very, very nervous. Everyone was pretty much distraught."

Albuquerque residents Robert and Stephanie Saavedra were also among those stranded at the Caverns, with their three children. Stephanie said they were about halfway done with the tour, when park officials gave the evacuation order. They made a 20-minute walk back out to the visitor center building. The family soon discovered that the road was impassable.

"We've been asking about food and water, since we have three small kids," Stephanie Saavedra said. "They don't even know about food and water for us. We're just walking around and waiting."

The family told Action 7 News that the staff at the tourist attraction gave them food, but they had to pay for it. They also said the caverns ran out of food, so some people were unable to eat.

Carlsbad Caverns remains closed.


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