Small Utah town leaders seek ways to prevent future flooding

HELPER, Utah — Monday was a grueling day for the town of Helper in Carbon County as crews and neighbors cleaned up the aftermath of Sunday’s flash floods.

“They’re unpredictable,” said fire department chief Matt Montoya. “You’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. You don’t know what’s going to happen, how bad it’s going to be.”

Heavy waters pierced many banks, flowing down the road and into nearby homes, campgrounds and golf courses.

“The flash flood warning hit our phones around the time it was happening,” Montoya said.

A few homes just off historic downtown Helper Main Street filled with water on Sunday. Debris, logs and boulders clogged the bridge over Ivy Street, causing water to overflow into a nearby neighborhood.

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The Auxiliary Fire Department had to rescue a woman who was trapped in her basement apartment. The water completely filled her house and she is now out of place.

“Everything they worked for is now underwater,” Montoya said. “It’s devastating.”

Water also rushed into an RV campground and the Carbon Country Club golf course.

“The area behind me was full of water,” said Tom King, chief golf pro on the course. “It was raging around here. The deck behind us almost touched the water.

The course reopened on Monday, except for the 18th tee and nearby restrooms. King said that area was covered in four feet of water.

“It’s pretty sloppy right now, so we have to get it dry, so we have to start pushing it with backhoes,” he said.

He asked commissioners and other county leaders to survey the damage to determine how to prevent it from happening again.

“I’ve never seen him go so high,” King said.

Flash floods are not abnormal in the region, but they usually occur later in the summer. Carbon County also faces last year’s 12,000-acre burn scar bear fire.

“The debris that’s left and the lack of vegetation, when you have a big storm like that, it’s a huge flow,” Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood said.

Wood said the burn scar will continue to be an issue for any storms to come.

The weather also caused landslides on US Highway 6. The Auxiliary Fire Department responded to the scene where two rocks shattered the windshield of a vehicle, hitting a couple inside. Both were rushed to Castleview Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Sheriff wants to remind anyone traveling in the area to be vigilant. He also advises neighboring homeowners to be prepared if flooding occurs again during the next storm.

“Keep an eye out for those storms. The storm was not there. The storm was clear at the top of the mountain, and that’s what caused all of this,” he said.

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