Flash flood in Ocotillo surprises photographer: Video raises concerns over flooding

Ocotillo man says video is proof of danger

OCOTILLO, Calif. - An Ocotillo man's video of flash flooding in Imperial County is raising questions about the safety of some roads carved into the desert by the Bureau of Land Management.

East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley found himself stuck in a flash flood Sunday near Ocotillo. Pelley told 10News he and his wife went out in their Toyota 4Runner to watch the rain clouds. He said within a matter of minutes, the dirt and gravel road they were on flooded.

"What I didn't notice was the water was coming behind me and it was coming [onto] the access road that I was on," Pelley said.

He shot video of the river that formed over the access road and shared it with 10News.

"This is crazy, gotta get out here," Pelley said in the video he took with his smartphone.

The incident worries Pelley because he said it's not natural. He said the BLM is part of a 42-mile network of dirt roads carved into the desert near Ocotillo so that work vehicles can get to a massive wind turbine installation operated by Pattern Energy.

There are 112 turbines are spread out over 1,200 acres around Ocotillo.

Pelley said the rain floods the roads, as opposed to spreading out into the desert.

"[I'm] very worried about this water getting diverted and possibly flooding our home," said Pelley.

Pelley said the Ocotillo community fought Pattern Energy and the BLM on the turbines on a number of issues, including the risk of flooding.

He thinks his video is proof that the next major rainfall could be disastrous for Ocotillo.

10News reached out to the Bureau of Land Management and Pattern Energy, but did not receive a response by Friday evening.


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