How stranded Burning Man festival attendee is coping with flood aftermath as more rain expected

"It's kind of what we signed up for."

Sunday, September 3, 2023
How stranded Burning Man attendee is coping with flood aftermath
About 70,000 people are stranded sheltering in place at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada.

PERSHING COUNTY, Nev. (KGO) -- About 70,000 people are stranded sheltering in place at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada.

Burning Man organizers are telling people "to stay in place until the ground becomes hard enough ...and safe enough to travel."

ABC7 learned Sunday morning, people are walking out since traffic in and out are not allowed.

Authorities said one person has died. The Pershing County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death.

Gemela Foster is one of the tens of thousands of people stranded in Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

She said she sifted through the mud to get to Wi-Fi to talk LIVE with ABC7's Stephanie Sierra on Sunday morning.

"It's been very wet and very muddy," she said. "But also we've been having a very good time"

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One was death reported as Burning Man festivalgoers in the Nevada desert are being told to conserve food and water as they shelter in place.

She said attendees are helping each other out "a lot."

"I've seen a few people give away coats. And others giving each other ice."

She said the morale has been pretty great. "It hasn't really stopped people from having a good time here which is great."

Burning Man organizers say there's no estimate on when roads will be dry enough to allow vehicles to leave safely, likely leaving some people anxious.

"I'm sure there are people who are anxious," Foster said.

"But when you come out here, you kind of come out with an idea that you really don't know what to expect. That's part of what brings a lot of us out here."

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Thousands in attendance at the annual Burning Man Festival are stranded in the Nevada Desert after heavy rain turned the area into a giant mud pit.

She acknowledges the current situation is not convenient, but "it's kind of what we signed up for."

With another round of showers expected on Monday, Foster said the attendees are getting ready.

Foster said her campmate even offered to move into her tent if necessary.

"Making sure we have food and water and tightening our tarps around our tents. Or moving into someone else's tent who's offered if our tents are wet. My tent just started to leak a little last night, but not too bad."

She said they're staying present and taking care of themselves as much as they can.

Foster says this experience could leave folks feeling stronger.

"There's a large awareness amongst a lot of us that when you have to walk through a large obstacle or an experience, you often come out of the other side with some wonderful new lesson."

"We know that after all this is over, we're probably still going to look back at this as one of our favorite experiences ever," she said.