Debris flow in Spanish Fork Canyon causes severe damage and delays

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 5:30 p.m. MDT

Railroad crews work to clean up a rock and mud slide on U.S. 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SPANISH FORK CANYON — Leslee Maki says she can’t believe what happened to her property after a storm moved into the area Monday night and a debris flow shut down part of U.S. 6.

“We still don’t know where everything is,” Maki said. “Forty-five minutes is all it took.”

Around 8:30 p.m., water and debris swept down the mountain, onto the road and severely damaging Maki’s corral and home.

Maki said she still struggles to grasp the scope of the debris flow that swept through her property, pushing some of it a quarter-mile or more away before encasing it in concrete-like mud.

Maki, who was not home when the storm hit, said her property had never flooded like this before.

“Our river that comes down the mountain to feed our horses is gone,” she said. “We have no water."

The surge of debris wiped out her horse corral, buried her pond and filled the window wells of her home with 2 feet of water.

"We lost our goat. He got buried in the mud,” Maki said. “Our gates are on the other side of the road."

A horse was also injured, she said.

Maki is still assessing the extent of the damage.

“We’re totally in awe,” she said. “I think we’re going to have to start all over.”

Utah Department of Transportation crews had scooped hundreds of tons of mud from the road by Tuesday.

“There was some debris that came off the side of the mountain in different locations for about a mile stretch,” UDOT spokeswoman Muriel Xochimitl said.

The debris and mud was thick across the road. A year ago, UDOT worked to shore up that hillside. If it hadn’t done that, the debris flow might have been even worse, officials said.

There was a lot of traffic coming through the area Monday night, but no cars were hit by the debris flow and there were no reports of injuries. Many were stopped for hours while crews cleared some of the debris. They were able to open one lane of traffic in each direction by 2 a.m. Tuesday.

UDOT is asking semitrailers to use I-70 as an alternate route for the next couple of days while they continue to clean things up.

“Crews will be on site through the end of the week cleaning up and also performing some preventative maintenance to make sure the area is as safe as possible,” Xochimitl said.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com

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