Major storm wreaks havoc, particularly in Utah County

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 8:20 p.m. MDT

This combination photo shows the soccer field by Timpanogos High School before and after the storm Saturday.

Stephanie Velasco

ALPINE — The rain kept coming and coming.

The floods and the mud forced about 100 residents of an Alpine neighborhood to evacuate their homes for a few hours Saturday. Heavy rains also caused mudslides in American Fork Canyon and flooding in areas, particularly throughout Utah County.

The pounding rain even caused a two-hour delay of the BYU-Texas football game at Lavell Edwards Stadium while fans, who were told to leave their seats, huddled in their cars or anywhere that would keep them dry and safe from lightning.

The National Weather Service reported that 0.75 inches of rain fell in just 15 minutes at the Alpine burn scar. Flooding was also reported in areas of Provo, Orem and Payson, though no evacuations were ordered in those areas.

City officials issued the evacuation order, forcing many Alpine residents from their homes after heavy downpours turned roads into rivers. One family said that when the storm hit, water and mud immediately came rushing down the side of the mountain.

"It was like a black monster lava, it just came,” said Alpine homeowner Vickie Reay.

Her son took cellphone video of water, mud and debris spilling over the wall in front of their home and into their yard.

"It was 100 feet wide and it just got bigger and bigger and just picked up more momentum," she said.

Reay's house on Box Elder Drive is directly in the path of the Quail Fire burn scar in Box Elder Canyon. This is the fourth time she's dealt with flooding since that fire burned more than 5,000 acres last summer.

"This is worse,” Reay said. “It's getting worse every single time."

The inside of her home was spared, but fire officials said about 12 homes in Alpine were flooded. Authorities said three debris basins at the base of Box Elder Canyon were also overrun.

"When I came up here, probably about 6:15 or 6:30, the water was running down the street about a foot and a half deep so it's probably the worst I've ever seen," said Lone Peak Fire Battalion Chief Joseph McRae.

Volunteers worked for hours stacking sandbags to hold back water flows cascading down city streets, sending water and mud into basements and living rooms. Fortunately, no one was injured, though damage estimates could be significant.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office reported that state Route 92 was shut down at mile post 10 in American Fork Canyon due to road debris from mudslides. Crews worked deep into the night to clear the roadway. Officials said one vehicle was struck by a boulder. It was towed away. No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, 150 people were stranded at the Timpanogos Visitors' Center during the closure.

Two hikers were also stranded in Draper's Corner Canyon. The women, both in their 30s, had gotten lost but were able to call for help before the battery in their mobile phone died.

Neighbors in a Payson neighborhood had to dig a ditch to try and drain water away from their flooded homes.

“Our neighbors just had huge puddles everywhere," said Payson resident Jodi Beck. "We had neighbors with buckets trying to bail them out. It had gone up and over into their window wells within about 20 minutes.”

City crews with backhoes arrived to help, along with many neighbors and volunteers.

"It just kept raining and coming and didn’t stop,” Beck said.

Payson Mayor Rick Moore said the city’s drains couldn’t handle so much water that fell so quickly.

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