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LAS VEGAS (AP) — With forecasts warning of new storms, Clark County lawmakers declared a state of emergency Tuesday for areas hit hardest by flash flooding last week, and learned they'll receive $1.5 million in federal funds to help repair Interstate 15 northeast of Las Vegas.
County commissioners in Las Vegas unanimously approved the emergency declaration hours after U.S. Sen. Harry Reid announced federal help toward some $5 million in repairs to a washed-out stretch of I-15 near Moapa.
"This storm caused a tremendous amount of damage and it will take some time to dig out from the mess," said Commissioner Tom Collins, a Democrat whose district includes the badly damaged Moapa Valley area.
On the interstate near the towns of Moapa and Glendale, road crews continued repairs with wary eyes watching the southern horizon. The forecast calls for the moisture-laden remnants of Tropical Storm Odile to sweep through Arizona into southern Nevada late Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We're keeping an eye on the weather and will adjust our resources accordingly," county spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. "You can't really predict a storm."
Thunderstorms spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Norbert stalled on a similar track through the region Sept. 8, dumping as much as 4 inches of rain in two hours on the sun-hardened hills and creating churning floods of silty brown water that swept across an Indian reservation and several towns along the normally trickling Muddy River.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday in much of southern Nevada, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Las Vegas valley and the Spring Mountains.
Federal, state and local officials have tallied 139 damaged homes in Moapa, Overton and Logandale from the Sept. 8 storm, and reported finding more than $1 million in public road damage in rural Moapa Valley and Sandy Valley areas.
Despite the emergency declaration, the federal government can only reimburse the county for flood-related expenses such as infrastructure repairs and overtime first-responder pay if the cost exceeds $6.8 million, Welling said.
One lane of patched-up Interstate 15 is open in each direction on the key tourist and trucking route between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Nevada transportation spokeswoman Ranya Botros said the other lanes of the divided highway could be repaired and open by the end of the week.
Northbound trucks were still facing daytime detours onto a route adding 50 miles and several hours to their Nevada-to-Utah trip.
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