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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Flooding displaces homeowners, blocks highways in Carbon, Emery counties

By Morgan Jacobsen, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Aug. 5 6:15 p.m. MDT

 After severe flooding that affected about 75 homes, crews cleared mud at a home in Helper on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014.

After severe flooding that affected about 75 homes, crews cleared mud at a home in Helper on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014.

(Alex Cabrero, KSL)

SALT LAKE CITY — Justin Wilde felt frustrated finding 6 feet of mud in the basement of his Spring Glen home of two months.

"I've never felt so helpless in my entire life, to tell you the truth," he said.

Wilde's was one of more than 70 homes in Carbon County that were damaged by severe thunderstorms and flooding Monday night. Officials said Helper, Spring Glen and Carbonville were hit the hardest by the floods.

Sue Williams, a Helper resident, also faced the discouraging aftermath of a flooded home.

"I've never been in anything like this," Williams said. "Everything of my great-grandkids', my granddaughters' — all of it is downstairs. It's nothing but floating. There's nothing but mud."

"We could hear the water running around our car port and our bedroom window," said Spring Glen resident Alexis Wilberg.

Cleanup crews worked all day Tuesday to clear mud and debris from streets and homes in Carbon County. The Red Cross provided meals to about 200 people displaced by the floods.

Damage was estimated at almost $2 million, and further assessments were underway Tuesday evening, according to Carbon County officials.

Other areas in the state were affected Tuesday by recent rainstorms. Officials in North Salt Lake say rain triggered a landslide about 400 feet wide that smashed into the back of a house, pushing it off its foundation. Evacuations were in effect for three other homes Tuesday evening, and no one was injured.

A 10-mile stretch of state Route 31 in Huntington Canyon remained closed Tuesday after debris washed onto the highway, according to Emery County officials.

Rainstorms saturated a "burn scar" where wildfire had previously consumed vegetation, causing debris flows and flooding. State Route 31 was covered in mud, boulders and trees — some as long as 40 feet, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

UDOT crews were using heavy equipment to clear the road. No motorists were stranded from the floods, Emery County reported.

A hard and fast downpour in Washington Terrace rushed down hills and flooded streets. The city was aware of about 10 homes that sustained minimal to moderate damage.

"It looks like we got pretty close to an inch in 45 minutes," said Washington Terrace city manager Tom Hanson. "Our infrastructure did not plug up or back up. However, the rain inundated our system to such that we couldn't keep up."

One elderly couple was evacuated from their basement home to a community center and were met by Red Cross representatives until family members arrived to pick them up, Hanson said. The couple's neighbors helped pump out the water by the evening.

The city is cleaning all catch basins, retention pond grates and gutters in preparation against coming rain, Hanson said.

As of Tuesday evening, only North Salt Lake had requested assistance from state resources, but state officials were well aware of each situation.

"Gov. (Gary) Herbert is monitoring local incidents … in various parts of the state, including the flooding of … homes in Carbon County, flooding in Emery County and the landslide in North Salt Lake," the governor's office stated in a news release. "Gov. Herbert expresses his support for those affected and offers his thanks for first responders, volunteers and other officials involved in the damage assessments and cleanup."

Isolated showers and thunderstorms were expected to continue Tuesday evening as moisture moves north across the Wasatch Front, according to KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero, McKenzie Romero

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com, Twitter: MorganEJacobsen

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