Burning Man Attendants Trek Home After Storm Flooding Left Tens Of Thousands Stranded

Major flooding caused by a summer storm at this year’s Burning Man Festival left tens of thousands of attendants stranded for days. Finally on Monday, conditions improved enough for event goers to begin their trip out of the Northern Nevada desert. 

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This past Monday afternoon, Burning Man Festival attendees will finally be able to make their journey’s out of the northern Nevada desert to go back home after a severe summer storm left tens of thousands stranded in dangerous flooding conditions. 

Event organizers have stated, according to the Associated Press, that they began letting traffic “flow” out of the main roads of the event around 2 p.m. while encouraging individuals to slowly exit. Organizers estimated many attendees were waiting in traffic for about five hours before truly being able to get out of the area. 

The annual event typically brings in around 80,000 artists, activists, musicians, and fans for a weekend of wilderness camping and avant-garde performances. The first Burning Man took place in San Francisco beach in 1986. Scott London, a photographer, told AP that the weather at least gave attendants the opportunity to lean on each other.

“We are a little bit dirty and muddy, but spirits are high. The party is still going, and [the weather and travel limitations offered us] a view of Burning Man that a lot of us don’t get to see.” 

Last Friday, the festival closed to vehicles after more than half an inch of rain caused flooding and mud pits that were a foot-deep. 

The road closures began early on in the festival before one of two ceremonial fires was scheduled to ignite. The event traditionally ends with the burning of a large wooden effigy shaped like a man as well as a wood temple structure, both meant to be burned during the final two nights of the festival.

However, authorities postponed the burnings to the end of Labor Day weekend so they could repair and reopen exit routes for vehicles. The effigy of the “man” was burned on Monday Night while the temple is set to ignite on Tuesday night. Rebecca Barger, a photographer from Philadelphia, discussed the determined attitude of attendees to stick out the event until the end.  

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“Everyone had just adapted, sharing RVs for sleeping, offering food, and coffee. I danced in foot-deep clay for hours to incredible DJs.”

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One fatality has been reported from the event, however, organizers have stated that the death was not related to the weather. Local authorities are investigating the individual and cause of death currently. 

President Joe Biden spoke with reporters this past weekend and stated that he was made aware of the situation at Burning Man and that the White House was speaking with the local authorities. 

The event itself is built on the idea of self-sufficiency among the attendees, who were encouraged to conserve their food and water and be there for one another as they weather the storm. 

One attendee, Cindy Bishop, and her friends told the media that spirits remained high throughout the weekend. “The spirit in there, it was really like, ‘We’re going to take care of each other and make the best of it.’”