Palm Desert, CA (KESQ) - While the floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Hilary have receded in much of the Coachella Valley, an unusual lake remains in a Palm Desert park. The three baseball fields and dugouts at Freedom Park remain underwater and closed more than a week after the storm drenched the area. City officials confirm "Freedom Park captured excess water, which it was designed to do."
The city says staff will continue the cleanup, including tree removal, in the coming days, but the flooded areas of the park are not expected to reopen for weeks. Where floodwaters have receded, dead fish were found.
Coach Loyce Crisp usually gives private baseball lessons at the fields.
"I mean, you know, Mother Nature. But I am shocked to see that you can't see any of the baseball field and how high this water did end up," said Crisp.
Ramiro Delara visits the park almost every day.
"[I feel] sadness because I miss it. Because I like coming here. Because it's a beautiful park. But for right now, I can't enjoy it fully," said Delara. "How long can we be patient? I don't know. It's only been a week or so. So we'll see. Hopefully, it doesn't take months and months."
Last week, the soccer fields at Freedom Park were cleared and reopened, but without lights.
As the city's public works director, Martin Alvarez, said clean-up crews are waiting for more water to dry up before pumping it out.
"[The baseball fields] were designed to collect as much water as possible. Probably not to this degree, but certainly, we were planning for a 100-year flood storm. This well exceeded the 100-year storm," said Alvarez. "We're taking it kind of a week at a time, we really don't have a set timeframe of what it could be to reopen."
Alvarez said it could be up to three months before the park is repaired and back to normal.
Freedom Park is open, with the exception of the baseball fields. The dog park, playground, basketball, and pickleball courts are open. The City asks parkgoers to avoid flooded areas.
For updates and information on the City’s storm response, please go to www.palmdesert.gov/hurricane.
Palm Desert, like most other valley cities, proclaimed a local emergency due to the impact of Tropical Storm Hilary. You can find a list of ongoing priorities for cleanup in Palm Desert here.
The City of Palm Desert is also providing urgent assistance to 30 to 40 residents of the Spanish Walk neighborhood who were displaced by flooding.
News Channel 3 was there as some residents were rescued by raft.
Mud removal continues in that community. City leaders have launched an online survey to evaluate storm damage in Palm Desert. You can find that here.