Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
West Jordan firefighter Kent Warner sweeps water from a home on Friday. City officials say pipe probably cracked due to corrosion.

WEST JORDAN — Becky Gottschall's heart sank as she looked at the yellowed pages of a July 1969 newspaper drying in the sun on her front lawn.

The newspaper, with the headline "Man Walks on Moon," was just one of the personal casualties of a broken water pipe that erupted in West Jordan Friday morning, flooding a handful of houses near 1300 West and 7300 South.

A 6-inch pipe cracked at about 5 a.m. Friday, and until about 5:30 a.m., gallons of water poured down the street and into the Gottschalls' basement and garage where memorabilia, books and family heirlooms were stored. Mixed with the collection of old newspapers were Christmas decorations, pieces of art and Rachel Gottschall's journals — and they all got soaked.

The 18-year-old said her childhood journals were ruined by the water, and that's the toughest loss to take.

"I'm in shock," Rachel Gottschall said. "We just don't need stuff like this to happen in our family. We already have enough to deal with."

Becky Gottschall found out her house was flooding when police officers called her at 5:15 a.m. and asked her to move her car out of the garage. At least 12 firefighters came with sandbags — a recent addition to the fire station's equipment after recent rains caused flooding in the city — to blockade houses in the neighborhood.

By noon the water, which at one point nearly covered all of the Gottschalls' front lawn, was gone and the pipe was almost repaired, but several residents were still sifting through their soggy belongings.

According to West Jordan Public Works director Tim Peters, the city-owned pipe probably cracked because of corrosion.

"I wish at this point we could pinpoint (the break) to one particular thing," Peters said. "It was just an older line, and I would have to say it was corrosion. It wasn't anything different than any given line in your home or mine that ended up springing a leak, but obviously, this caused a lot more damage."

The city shut off water to the area while the pipe was being repaired, and contractors came to help clean up the mess, Peters said.

Although some residents' property was damaged, Peters said the situation could have been worse. Neighbors who gathered to help the Gottschalls salvage their books and belongings agreed with Peters.

"(The city) really got people in here really quickly to minimize the long-term damage," said Cheryl Christensen, a longtime friend of the Gottschalls. "As far as the water running into the basement, it's not great, but it's better than what could have happened."


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