THE glitz and glam of the Super Bowl hits Las Vegas tonight but hundreds live among the dirt and the rats in a secret labyrinth of tunnels under the city.
AlamyThe Super Bowl will take place in Sin City tonight[/caption]
AlamyAway from the noise and the glitz are hundreds, if not a few thousand, tunnel dwellers living into the deep dark[/caption]
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But under all that glamour and noise sits miles of concrete tunnels hidden beneath Las Vegas that were built in the aftermath of a catastrophic flash flood in 1975.
Hundreds, if not a few thousand, tunnel dwellers are believed to be down there where the sun never shines.
Rent in the city has more than doubled since the pandemic, forcing more people onto the streets and then into the tunnels.
For the population that live in the city’s underworld, often dubbed “The Mole People”, it provides shelter against the brutal desert weather, but can also be deadly when the rains come.
Donica Martinez, originally from California, lived in the tunnels for six years after escaping from an abusive relationship.
“It was a community,” she told The Times. “Bad things happened … but we looked out for each other.”
She said the tunnels were safer than sleeping outside. And they are a good place to hide as police don’t venture deep inside.
But huge volumes of metre-high water can suddenly flood through the tunnels, destroying the makeshift communities.
A few months ago, a hurricane came through the city, flushing water all the way through and destroying almost all of the settlements inside.
One couple had tried to ride out the storm. They were swept up in the water, the man broke his leg and both of them held on for 40 hours until they battled their way out.
One man called Jay, 45, has been living in the tunnels for over 13 years after a series of events left him homeless.
He said his most important possession is his headlamp.
He called his live in the tunnels “brutal” and that often all of his belongings are simply washed away in minutes.
“It sounds crazy, but it’s true,” Jay told YouTuber Brandon Buckingham in August.
He once even found a chopped-up body among the dirt.
For some who move back above ground, it can take years for their eyes to adjust to normal brightness levels.
AlamyThe makeshift communities in the tunnels are torn to pieces when floods come[/caption]
AlamySome people spend years living into the storm drains where cops don’t dare enter[/caption]
AlamyOne tunnel dweller’s most prized possession in the world is a headlamp[/caption]
AlamyRent in Las Vegas has doubled since the pandemic[/caption]
AlamyThe network stretches for 700-miles underneath Sin City[/caption]
AlamyThe so-called Mole People’s lives are starkly different from the world above[/caption]