Despite a warning that a wall of water was headed toward him, Rulon Madsen decided to stay in his Fourth North home.
Madsen finally fled after seven feet of water and mud filled his basement, making his home the hardest hit in flooding caused by an estimated 30-foot break in the Murdock Canal. Water and mud swept through Lindon and Pleasant Grove Sunday.Authorities began Monday looking for what caused the 4:50 p.m. break in the earthen canal at Sixth North in Lindon that forced the evacuation of dozens of homes and caused thousands of dollars in damage, but no injuries, before the water receded about 8 p.m.
Total damage caused by the flooding was still undetermined Monday morning, as community leaders geared up to begin
cleaning up muddy lawns and flooded basements.
Madsen, who witnessed the damage done to his home, estimated his losses at a minimum of $20,000 and said his basement would have to be gutted.
"We had 15 minutes' warning, and were told to get out," Madsen said. "We decided to stay and get some things out of the basement. We got some furniture out, but we lost everything else.
"The water and mud eventually got to 7 feet deep. I left when I saw the pool table float by me."
Floodwater from the break raced through orchards on Fourth East, down Fourth North to Lindon Park, then down U.S. 91. Water from the canal also flooded unused fields before draining into Utah Lake.
The canal, fed by the Provo River, provides irrigation water to much of Salt Lake County. Water to the canal was quickly shut off after the break was reported.
Authorities predicted that most damage to area orchards would result from too little water in the canal rather than the flooding. Without water, orchards out of the path of the floodwaters that had been scheduled to be irrigated will remain dry.
Calvin Mills, chief of Pleasant Grove's volunteer fire department said the break started small, then parts of the canal began breaking away in 10-foot pieces.
Some residents in the path of the water were able to sandbag their homes and prevent serious damage. Volunteers were recruited from the LDS Church to help sandbag. Many had been in church meetings when the flooding began.
"They let us out, and we all came over and sandbagged," said Dennis Gray, a Lindon resident.
An estimated 10,000 sandbags were filled and braced against the flood water, officials said, crediting the volunteers with saving some homes and businesses from damage.
"They knocked on my door about 45 minutes before the water got here," said Lane Carson, whose house is on U.S. 91.
"Volunteers came with sandbags, and the last bag was in place just as the water got here. The water came about an inch away from coming over the sandbags, but then it went back down," Carson said.
The flooding also washed weeds and silt into area sewers, requiring crews with high-pressure water hoses to work through the night to clear the system, but not before some sewers backed up into area homes.
Only a few brief power outages were reported as a result of the flood. Parts of U.S. 91 were also washed away.
Dave Bicker, Pleasant Grove emergency-first response officer, said most residents handled the emergency well.
"We had a few sightseers who slowed down traffic, and I was afraid some kids playing in the water were going to be washed away, but otherwise it went OK," Bicker said.