Stranded Burning Man festival goers began heading home on Monday as a driving ban was lifted in the northern Nevada desert.
Tens of thousands of people had been stuck after. As of midday Monday, approximately 63,000 people remained on site, according to Burning Man.
“Exodus operations” began at 2 p.m. local time, organizers said. Though the driving ban was lifted, attendees were advised to consider holding off on trips home until Tuesday to alleviate congestion. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was helping organize departures from the Black Rock Desert.
“We understand participants are eager to return home, but safety is our top priority,” Sheriff Darin Balaam said.
A Friday downpour had turned the festival grounds and surrounding areas into a muddy mess, leaving the roads impassable. The Burning Man entrance was shut down on Saturday, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said.
“You don’t expect this kind of rain and the effect,” attendee Paul Tan said.
during the festival. The death occurred during the extreme rain, but not because of it, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
The White House on Sunday said that President Biden had been briefed on the flooding at Burning Man and that administration officials were “monitoring the situation and are in touch with state and local officials.”
While people were unable to hop into cars to leave the gathering, some opted to trek through the mud on foot, including superstar DJ and music producer Diplo. He shared a video to social media Saturday afternoon that showed several people riding on the back of a truck leaving the festival, one of whom appeared to be comedian Chris Rock.
“Just walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with chris rock and a fan picked us up,” Diplo wrote.
Burning Man’s organizers asked people not to walk out of the festival on Monday.
Despite the messy conditions, attendee Elizabeth Downing told CBS News she felt safe and comfortable at the festival.
“We were all there as a community and we actually came together and made the best of it,” Downing said.
Many will stick around to watch an effigy being burned on Monday night. The burning typically signifies the end of the gathering, which was first launched in 1986. The burning had been postponed because of the weather conditions.