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Residents credit neighbors for protecting home from flooding

Published: Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:19 p.m. MDT

Residents living south of Levan spent the day Wednesday, July 30, 2014, clearing mud from their property. A thunderstorm that aided firefighters battling the Levan Fire on Tuesday also caused a damaging mudslide.

Sam Penrod, Deseret News

LEVAN, Juab County — It’s cleanup day for residents who live just south of Levan.

Rain Tuesday night helped firefighters battling the Levan Fire in Juab County, but it created a mudslide that caused damage to yards and farmland.

Enoch Barnhill usually mows his neighbor’s lawn, but Wednesday he was trying to scrape the mud from it.

Tuesday night, a river starting running toward Dale and Phyllis Kenison's home.

"I didn't think it was going to reach us, but 15 minutes after I got home, it was here,” Phyllis Kenison said.

They could see their home was in danger, when people suddenly showed up to help, building a barricade with large straw bales.

“People were fighting it and keeping it away from our home,” Phyllis Kenison said. “People were putting up the straw bales. It was an amazing thing to see happen.”

"We had neighbors we didn't recognize from the other part of town, and everyone just stayed right here until they knew the house was safe, and we didn't get any flooding inside,” Dale Kenison said.

The heavy thunderstorm sent a river of mud, rocks and debris across state Route 28, closing the road for hours. Runoff and it kept going, damaging the crops in farmers' fields.

Residents were worried about the fire burning on the hillside above them. The wildfire, which began July 24 and is believed to be human-caused, has scorched more than 4,300 acres. As of Wednesday night, it was 95 percent contained.

The burn scar left behind could not hold back the heavy runoff from a thunderstorm, which dumped more than an inch of rain.

“It’s a pretty bad deal,” resident Brandon Scott said. “It’s ruined a lot of fields. It’s ruined a lot of hay fields.”

And residents are worried it's going to happen again. On Wednesday, they created ditches so if it rains again, at least the water will have somewhere to go.

And as they start the enormous task of trying to clean up their yards, people like the Kenisons say they are indebted to the community members who came to help.

“We would have really had some damage if it hadn't been for them,” Dale Kenison said.

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

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