Flood brings home admonition to 'Love thy neighbor'

By Mary Archbold

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 10 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Clark Duncan carries out wet furniture from his brother's home on Saddle Bluff Drive after a canal breached in Murray.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

MURRAY — Neighbors, community members, friends, family and strangers came together to show the true meaning of the commandment to "Love thy neighbor" on Saturday, April 27, as a wall of water, mud and boulders from a breached canal inundated a small neighborhood.

Overwhelmed neighbors who only knew each other to wave or say the occasional "hi" hugged and cried together.

The home of Debbie and Stephen Linge was one of the hardest hit. One of the first priorities was to get their three younger girls away from the scene as water continued to pour from the canal. Lindsay Pearmain took them to her home down the street, where they decided to watch the movie "Brave" because they wanted to be brave for their mom and dad.

The River 5th Ward had planned a party that day at 5 p.m. Several of the ward members were at the church preparing for the party when the breach occurred. Rushing home to find the disaster, they gathered with other neighbors to watch helplessly as the streets and homes flooded.

Because half the congregation was digging out homes instead of attending their scheduled party, River 5th Ward members took some of the food and hoisted it over a backyard fence because the main entrance to the neighborhood was blocked off by emergency personnel. Amy and Lindsay Pearmain and Lisa Walker carried down three 6-foot hoagies for the neighbors and workers.

Later that evening, when the crowd was breaking up, Tate Mooy said, "My mom and I were walking home when we met a guy named Jess. He told us how he'd been driving home and saw the neighborhood and came back because he wanted to help. I got to work with him clearing out the storm drains that were covered by all the mud. We worked with each other for about an hour where I got to learn that he didn't even know anyone in the neighborhood, but came to help because he knew he'd appreciate any bit of help if he were in the same situation. The most remarkable thing to me was that even after all the work we'd done on Saturday, he was back again Sunday, ready to work. It was just neat seeing someone sacrifice so much of their time on a Saturday evening helping out people they'd never met before based on the principle of 'doing the right thing.'"

That was just the beginning of the support that began coming in.

Sunday at 8 a.m., more than 70 volunteers showed up ready to help with gloves, shovels, rakes, buckets and wheelbarrows. Among the volunteers were neighbors, friends, River 5th Ward members, Murray High School students and complete strangers. Cleanup efforts began with volunteers shoveling mud from the sidewalks and lawns out into the street for the larger equipment to move into big trucks and haul away.

Joy Robb arrived at 8:30 and knocked on the door of one of the homes that had a basement full of mud. She said she just started helping in the house by washing dishes, cleaning and helping condense items on shelves in the garage to make room for the food storage from the basement that hadn't gotten wet. Afterward, she and others who had come to help dumped wet bags from the basement on the garage floor and documented the contents by photographing them and itemizing each in a book for insurance purposes. Robb consoled one of the young girls who was crying, "All my toys from when I was little are gone."

In a muddy stairwell, Cyndee Seare was assisting with handing up bags of muddy belongings. She said she was amazed at the number of people who had come to help. She then confided that it was the one-year anniversary of her son's death that day, and that she decided she would come and help others instead of being home feeling sad. Serving made a very difficult day easier for her, she said.

Rick Pearmain, first counselor in the River 5th Ward bishopric, took charge of the cleanup crew.

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