Davis County residents prepare for another windstorm

Published: Monday, Dec. 5 2011 12:20 a.m. MST

Another wind storm is forecast to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday and to continue overnight into Monday.

Steve Greenwood

BOUNTIFUL — The streets of Bountiful were buzzing with traffic Sunday afternoon.

And the normally crowded parking lots at meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were mostly empty.

LDS Church services in the city and other areas of Davis County were canceled so members could help each other and their neighbors continue to clean up from Thursday's windstorm and prepare for another Sunday night — this time mixing high winds with snow.

Stake and ward leaders made the decision to cancel church services early Sunday morning and ask their respective congregations to serve one another.

"This is the essence of what we believe, the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Austin Sargent, bishop of the Bountiful 25th Ward. "We love our neighbors, we care for them and reach out to them in times of need to make sure everybody is cared for."

Sargent estimated there were well over 1,000 members of the Bountiful Utah South Stake loading and unloading trucks Sunday, and those congregations weren't the only ones participating in the citywide cleanup.

Doug Smith said the impromptu service project reminded him of a story from LDS Church history, when handcart pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Church President Brigham Young suspended services that Sunday afternoon, Smith said, so church members could take care of those arriving.

"Prayer has its place," he said, paraphrasing President Young, "but right now, let everyone do his proper duty."

Smith certainly did his. As the owner of a hauling company, he rounded up 17 trucks to haul piles of tree limbs to the Bountiful landfill.

"We've just been going from pile to pile," Smith said as snow started to fall Sunday afternoon. "The limbs that are cut free, they're going to travel and break windows out. They're going to be a terrible mess."

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for Davis and Weber counties Sunday, calling for sustained winds of 25-40 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph beginning Sunday evening and continuing overnight. The highest winds were expected between 10 p.m. Sunday through 11 a.m. Monday.

Residents in Bountiful and other areas of south Davis County were rushing to clean up after Thursday's storm that blasted the area with hurricane-force winds, blowing over semitrailers, toppling trees, downing power lines, closing schools and creating extensive property damage.

At least one school will be closed Monday. Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams said Morgan Elementary School in Kaysville has been without power since Thursday's storm. District officials are planning to assess the situation about 6 a.m. Monday to determine whether any other schools will be closed.

Davis County residents were nervous Sunday about what damage they'll find when they look outside Monday morning.

"It's scary. I think everyone's a little frightened," Bountiful homeowner Sheree Kerr said as volunteers cleared her yard Sunday after last week's winds felled two of her trees and sent branches from a third into her neighbor's home. "None of us knows what to expect."

Beverly Ward had two large trees land on her house Thursday, including one that crashed into her dining room. In all, Ward lost seven trees on her property, and she worried that another one, leaning after Thursday's storm, would fall Sunday night.

Ward said she was overwhelmed when she woke up to the damage Friday morning.

"Then people showed up (to help clean up), and it just lifted my spirits," she said.

Dozens of neighbors were working in Ward's yard Sunday afternoon, cutting up the fallen trees with chainsaws, loading the pieces into trucks and hauling them away.

"It's not nearly has hard when we're all working together," she said.

Earlier Sunday, Gov. Gary Herbert deployed the Utah National Guard to help with the storm preparations in Davis County.

"It's actually a really good opportunity for us to execute a mission we weren't planning for," said Chris Vernon, commander of the 624th Engineer Company. "It's unbelievable how much debris there is."

Herbert also sent workers from the Utah Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to several cities — including Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington and Kaysville — in the hopes of avoiding property damage and personal injury from flying debris left from last week's storm.

The governor called the cleanup "a significant effort" and the amount of debris that was cleared "very impressive."

"The state's helping in a significant way," Herbert said, "but it's really a coordinated effort (between) the state, county, cities and volunteers, and the (residents) themselves."

The state's Emergency Operations Center and the county's local emergency command center were activated, and the National Guard mobilized dump trucks and other heavy equipment to provide traffic control at the county's landfill.

Trucks were lining up to unload debris at the Bountiful landfill. A parking lot behind Bountiful High School also was used as dumping area.

Contributing: John Hollenhorst, Sandra Yi and Mike Anderson

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com, lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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