While area residents sifted through mud and debris in the wake of the Quail Creek Reservoir dike failure, shock over the New Year's disaster gradually was being replaced with anger in some over how their evacuation was handled by authorities.
Scott and Sherrie Hansen, whose furnished basement was filled with water and mud, said they're unhappy about the evacuation orders that went out close to midnight on New Year's Eve."They should have warned us three weeks ago," Sherri Hansen said. "You know for three weeks they have been working, sealing holes up there in the dike."
She charged that authorities waited until the last minute when they could no longer control the seepage through the dam.
Dr. R.H. Griffin, a St. George dentist, claims Bloomington residents were given "bad warnings."
Griffin was at a friend's house in Bloomington Hills when his son, Scott, telephoned just seconds before midnight, telling him the evacuation had been ordered. Griffin drove home immediately to find his son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren standing outside waiting as they did not have a car. It was about 12:15 a.m. as they drove away.
"The flood did not come until about 5 o'clock in the morning," he said. Knowing the water would not hit for hours, he said, authorities could have given residents one hour to move belongings to safety, allowing them plenty of time to get out.
"But they just ran everybody out, and the people waited and waited and waited, and five hours later, here comes the flood," Griffin said.
Griffin said ruefully, "Somebody smarter than me should have known how long it would take for that flood to get down here."
Responding to the charge that residents should have been warned long ago that the dike was leaking, Tony Hafen, Washington County emergency services director, said, "We've had leaks on the dam all along since it was built (in 1985)."
As each leak was discovered concrete was pumped in to stop the flow, and the approach seemed to be working. He said there was no previous problem in the area that collapsed.
His stock answer for insurance experts wanting to know how much damage was caused? "I told them to call me in about three days."