No official estimates of damage have been prepared from the New Year's morning failure of the Quail Creek Reservoir dike, but it already is clear that insurance companies won't be paying for it.
Tony Hafen, Washington County emergency services director, said Tuesday afternoon that it will be two or three more days "before we can put out an accurate estimate" of the damages.Among the damage are 35 to 40 homes that were flooded in the Bloomington suburb, along with many apartments in the Riverside Apartment complex, destroyed irrigation canals and diversion structures, dead livestock, washed-away farm equipment and damage to utilities.
Hafen said that among the utilities alone, there was destruction of power lines, water pipes, sewer lines, telephone wires, natural-gas lines and cable TV lines.
Tuesday afternoon, Mountain Fuel Supply Co. teams were working below the dike restoring an 8-inch natural-gas line that was uncovered and ripped out by the flood. A long trench that had been cut into the bedrock lay empty.
A huge swath of bedrock ledges were exposed and ripped up between the highway and the dike, about one mile away.
Rock collectors were happily collecting crystals that were exposed when the water tore up the ground. Some had large chunks of yellowish or clear quartz, while others carried samples of the gypsum - blamed by some for the dike failure.
Interviewed at the emergency services nerve center in the basement of the Washington County Administration Building, Hafen said most of the utilities have been restored. "The power and sewer and water are out in two areas yet. Washington Fields is still out of water. Harrisburg resort is out of water and sewer. Quail Creek resort is out of water, sewer and telephone. They just shut it down."
Hafen confirmed that when the gas line was ripped out there was a danger of explosion. But the gas utility shut off the line quickly. "Mountain Fuel was Johnny on the spot. They were right there," he said.
Two bridges were temporarily closed but now are deemed safe. Four others remain unusable. Two were washed away, while the largest damaged bridge - the crossing near Hurricane - has been so weakened that a new structure will have to be built.
An official from the Utah Department of Transportation told the Deseret News that this bridge probably would have had to be replaced soon anyway because of increased traffic to Zion's National Park. He said he believes a four-lane highway might be needed there.
St. George insurance agents, contacted by the Deseret News, believe few policy holders have contacted them with claims because homeowners insurance almost never covers flood damage.
Richard Wiest, representing Allstate Insurance, said one client called about the loss of 95 cattle, a mobile home, a travel trailer and six horses. Only the travel trailer was covered under comprehensive insurance available for vehicles.
Asked whether most people have flood insurance in St. George, Wiest said, "They sure don't . . . this is the desert. Floods don't happen - at least not normally. Flood damage is specifically excluded from homeowner policies."