Tens of thousands of people remained stranded Sunday at the Burning Man music and arts festival — and authorities were investigating reports of a death — following torrential rains that turned the site of the annual counterculture bash in the Nevada desert into a treacherous muddy pit.
The 73,000 attendees were ordered to shelter in place, with the festival closed to vehicles on Saturday due to the inclement weather brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary – and while forced to go into “survival mode,” some appeared determined to keep the party going.
“Honestly, we’re having a great time,” festival goer Theresa Galeani said of the mood at Burning Man’s five-mile site in the Black Rock Desert.
“Some people … were supposed to leave a few days ago so they’re out of water or food. But I am an organizer so I went around and found more water and food. There is more than enough here for people. We just have to get it to everyone,” Galeani explained.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said a death had happened “during this rain event,” according to a KNSD report late Saturday, but further details about the incident – including the deceased’s name and the apparent cause – were not immediately available.
Participants are expected to provide their own food, water and shelter for the duration of the event – which ends on Monday with a mass departure known as Exodus.
Earlier, organizers had told participants to conserve their food and water, and banned vehicles from roads as Burners, as participants are known, spent the night huddled in mud-streaked tents and RVs.
Scott London, a photographer and author of the book “Burning Man: Art On Fire,” agreed with Galeani’s assessment that the main challenge was logistics, since vehicles cannot cross the site and supplies cannot be brought in.
“We are a little bit dirty and muddy but spirits are high. The party is still going,” he insisted, noting that he spent most of Saturday walking the site barefoot.
The new limitations due to weather, he added, offered “a view of Burning Man that a lot of us don’t get to see.”
“Usually it’s very crowded with art cars, bikes and people all over the place but yesterday it was like an abandoned playground,” he said.
Those still on their way to the multi-day festival, which began Aug. 27, were told Saturday to “turn around and head home” by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the public agency which manages the land where the event is held.
“More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa,” officials said.
Photos and videos posted to social media show attendees trudging through the muddy desert, some barefoot, others wearing mud-caked shoes and clothing, and still others walking with bags protecting their shoes.
“I think it’s just a waiting game now,” attendee Max Spooner, seen walking on the grounds with a mattress strapped to his back, told USA TODAY. “Survival mode, here we go.”
Spooner told the paper he needed to trudge and slip his way to his car and retrieve dry bedding after his tent got wet Friday night.
Temperatures dropped into the low 50s on the grounds of the festival, the outlet reported.
The storm also left many without cell phone service, though organizers were installing temporary cell phone towers to allow stranded attendees to reach their families and make travel arrangements, the Reno Gazette Journal said.
Lifelong Burning Man enthusiast Ed Fletcher, of Sacramento, said that the intense weather merely enhanced the festival experience.
“Radical self-reliance is one of the principles of Burning Man,” he said. “The desert will try to kill you in some way, shape or form.”
Burning Man newcomer Rebecca Barger, of Philadelphia, added that she is determined to stick it out.
“I’m not leaving until both ‘The Man’ and ‘The Temple’ burn,” she declared, referring to the festival’s namesake wooden effigy and structure that are traditionally set alight on the final two nights.
The Man – a large wooden effigy – and The Temple – a large wooden structure – had been set to burn Saturday night but the event was pushed off to Sunday 9:30 p.m. local time, barring poor weather, Burning Man officials said.
“Everyone has just adapted, sharing RVs for sleeping, offering food and coffee,” Barger said of the scene at the mud-drenched campsite.
After fashioning plastic bags covered in socks over her shoes to prevent them getting stuck, she said, “I danced in foot-deep clay for hours to incredible DJs.”
One challenge, Bargar admitted, is the lack of toilet supplies: Trucks usually clean out the portable toilets multiple times a day, but have not been able to reach the site since Friday’s rain. Some attendees said the trucks resumed cleaning Sunday.
A Los Angeles-based doctor, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told Insider the unwashed toilets and bad weather puts stranded Burners at risk for COVID-19, food poisoning, and other hygiene-related stomach bugs.
“If it rains again, which is going to prevent people from being able to use their vehicles for another three to four days, people are gonna get stranded there, and there’s gonna be a resource crunch,” the physician reportedly said.
“The port-a-potties are probably going to start overflowing, and that’s gonna mix with the mud and the rain, and it’s going to possibly spread infectious diseases.
“As the days go on, and people realize that they’re not going to have enough water to do dishes with, there’s going to be a lot more sanitation issues and hygiene issues,” he added.
“And so I think people may start getting a little bit more desperate, and we may start seeing people getting sick if they don’t find a way of getting out of there fast.”
Those already desperate to make a break for it over the weekend included comic Chris Rock and DJ Diplo, who walked six miles before hitching a ride in the back of a fan’s pickup truck on Saturday.
Two days after the downpour, officials were working on opening exit paths by the end of Labor Day weekend.
As of Sunday morning local time, however, the driving ban was still in place as intermittent thunderstorms rolled through, Burning Man organizers wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Those without all-terrain tires were discouraged from attempting to flee, as they ran the risk of getting stuck and preventing the Exodus, those in charge counseled.
Rains continued Sunday and organizers warned that driving off safely may not be possible until Monday.
“We have confidence in communal effort and civic responsibility,” organizers said in a statement to the Reno Gazette Journal. “This is a good moment to (keep) those principles in mind.
"Freaking ebola at burning man. This is insane." https://t.co/grOOTyUGeC— Jonny's Quest (@gjn590) September 4, 2023
Hemorrhagic Fever and Leprosy Boil Virus Cures
At Least 2 More Pestilences Warning 3/10/22 @ 5:15AM (Prophetic Words and Visions from my Lovely Jesus)
The 1st one that is already released is called Marburg and will cause the bleeding through the eyes, nose, ears as every hole of the body and cause Hemorrhagic Fever.
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The Cure for this one is crushing the Burdock Root in poultice form (a Rub) with ground ginger, onion and garlic powder and placing on the wound to kill the poison.
Full Recipes are on her website- Click Here
The Depopulation Agenda Plan is commencing..
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