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The latest on the Burning Man flooding

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Knee-deep mud, warnings to conserve food and water, orders to shelter in place - this is all at Burning Man 2023 after torrential rains turned the Black Rock Desert into miles and miles of mud. There are also reports that at least one person has died at the counterculture festival about a hundred miles north of Reno, Nev. Earlier this afternoon, I caught up with NPR's Claudia Peschiutta, who's at her first burn, and she told me it's muddy where she is, but that she and her camp family have been making the best of things.

CLAUDIA PESCHIUTTA, BYLINE: It's pretty wet and muddy out here. And speaking of mud, I probably have about an inch or two of mud on my boots right now. This isn't regular mud. It's this playa dust, and it just cakes onto everything. And your feet feel like they weigh, like, 10 pounds each. And, like, my legs are getting sore from walking around with so much mud on my boots.

DETROW: And it makes sense that they're telling everybody not to try and drive through this particularly thick mud.

PESCHIUTTA: That's right. And some people who have four-wheel drive vehicles are taking the chance to try to get out today. But from everything I've heard, you know, officially, the gates remain closed. So it's kind of like you're taking your chances. And if you get stuck there, you're stuck there. But it does look like most people are just here and mostly sheltering in place today. Yesterday, when we got a break in the rain and things dried up a little bit, the party very quickly started up again.

DETROW: And I should mention that desert Wi-Fi is doing the best as it can as we talk to you, dropping in and out. But we've got you on the line now. You know, you read the official warnings and the official statements about this situation. You see things like shelter in place, conserve food and water, and it sounds kind of scary. But talking to you right now, that's - that doesn't really seem like how it feels where you are. It seems like people are taking this in stride.

PESCHIUTTA: That's exactly right. The warnings do sound very dire. And, of course, the organization has to, you know, tell people to take care. And - but everyone seems to be helping each other out. And I haven't seen one person who seems worried about it at all.

DETROW: I do want to ask about one serious thing, though. Officials say one person did die. There's no information on the cause or exactly what happened. But what are people saying about that? What do we know?

PESCHIUTTA: I have to be honest with you, I had not heard about that until you mentioned it to me. Obviously, you've got to be careful moving around the area because it's very easy to fall and hurt yourself in some way. One of our campmates hurt, I think, his ankle. But, yeah, I mean, that is unfortunate. I'm sorry to hear that that happened. I mean, mostly what I've seen from my personal experience is just any sort of need that you have, somebody, whether friend or neighbor or stranger, will jump in to help you out in some way. And I came more as an observer. Like, I was curious to see what this experience would be like. And I've really felt, like, embraced by the people that I've met here. And I think I might actually consider coming back, as wild as this experience has been.

DETROW: Well, that's NPR's Claudia Peschiutta covered and caked in a lot of mud at Burning Man. Thanks for talking to us.

PESCHIUTTA: Confirmed.

DETROW: Stay dry as much as you can.

PESCHIUTTA: You're welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Claudia Peschiutta
Claudia Peschiutta is a supervising editor for NPR's Morning Edition. She helps to create the lineup, edit scripts and work out a myriad of details that go into making a daily show.