SANDY — A couple hundred sandbags is all that's preventing the south side of Taylor World's house from collapsing into the raging creek, and even that might not be enough.
His family was on its way back from a trip to Apple Reef near St. George Sunday night when neighbors and ward members called them to say the foundation around their Sandy home at 8908 Cobble Creek Canyon Circle was eroding into the creek flowing out of Little Cottonwood Canyon — one of several residences along the Wasatch Front affected by flooding since Saturday.
"If it washes out anymore, we'll lose this side of the house," World said, a nervous expression on his face as he surveyed the damage. "The master bedroom, bath, our two children's bedrooms and downstairs, a mother-in-law bedroom, would be washed away."
The only indication of where his property once stood is a lone tree, which now resides closer to the opposite side of the creek as 30 feet of his backyard has washed away since Sunday, including some of the ground beneath the home's foundation, leaving his home in a perilous spot.
Calling it the largest flow of water in Little Cottonwood Creek since 1983, the mayors of several Salt Lake County cities stood side -by -side Monday afternoon warning residents that flooding could continue in parts of the valley for a few more days.
Flooding was not limited to Salt Lake County, however. Property owners along the Weber River in Summit County and along Dry Creek in Lehi were also busy sandbagging and taking other protective measures to limit damage from rapidly rising waters there.
TBut the group of Salt Lake area mayors also emphasized that emergency crews from all jurisdictions are working jointly to protect residents. Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said he hopes the efforts will hopefully make the entire incident "forgettable" in just a few days.
The mayors'ir biggest fear was that Little Cottonwood Creek would once again hit its highest point about midnight and flood.
Officials warned that the danger wasn't past and that an expected peak at midnight could bring another foot of water and damage to residences and bridges supported by sandbags and prayers.
By Monday evening, total damage was still being tallied, but there was significant damage to some condos in Holladay and minor damage to homes, apartments and businesses in Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, Murray and Midvale.
Emergency responders at Little Cottonwood Creek were forced to remove a 15- to 20-foot-long pedestrian bridge in Little Cottonwood Canyon near 5500 East, which spans the creek and leads to many popular hiking trails.
Debris wasere getting caught under the bridge and clogging the rushing water so much, that the sides of the creek bed started to erode as the water created its own path.
"It's literally turning into a dam," said Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson. "There was so much water spilling over it last night and so much debris, the water eroded all around it and created a new river."
Once the bridge was removed Monday afternoon, however, the clogged debris still didn't budge, forcing crews to find another way to get the debris moving.
A nearby power private power plant, about the size of a one-car garage, was in serious jeopardy of being lost Monday and falling into the waterriver as the creek'sits banks were eroded away, said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. Loss of the plant, however, would not affect any homeowners.
At the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, voluntary evacuations were in place in a neighborhood threatened by floods, Hutson said.
There were also concerns about North Little Cottonwood Road near the mouth of the canyon. The creek had cut 20 to 30 feet into the mountain below the road. Officials were evaluating whether the road would have to be closed.
Homeowners in that area had stacked thousands of sandbags Sunday night through Monday trying to minimize damage in case the road heading up the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon caved in as officials feared.
Looking up at the road from behind a house at 3985 Alpine Valley Circle (9700 South), Winder pointed to one rock that still remained against a nearly 30-foot washed out hill supporting the road and said if the rock went, they would shut down the road.
"If the other boulder goes," Winder said, pointing to a large rock about 10 feet above the first. "We'll lose the road."
Greg Parrish, who owns a home precariously positioned near the road, said his family watched Sunday night as the 30 feet of the hill caved in.
"We were sitting on the patio, thinking it was all over (the danger), and then we heard a big snap," he said. "Then a crack, we watched three trees, then four trees go down and the whole hill went in."
Other homeowners are concerned that if any more of the hill erodes, the remaining debris will create a dam farther downstream that will clog the creek and water will overflow into their homes.
"Tonight is going to be where it gets worse," said nearby homeowner Mike Osterloh. "Hopefully we're ready for it."
An aqueduct that ran water to about 250 residences in Murray broke off when the hill eroded and landed in the backyard of Joe and Ann Pettit's home. Ron Vance, president of the South to Spain Ditch Company that used the aqueduct, believes most of the flood damage was over and said this year's erosion was less severe in comparison to 1983 when the entire valley was flooded.
"Every 14 years the water peaks, and we're about two years away from that peak," said Vance, who's monitored water control for 40 years. "This is the first year we've had so much debris caught from behind the bridge."
Farther downstream in the Sandy area, 16 homes suffered some flooding, though none suffered serious damage, according to a Sandy official.
Even further downstream, flooding was a worry at the old Black Angus restaurant, near 1300 East and 7300 South. The rapidly moving water was compromising the safety of the foundation of the vacant building's outdoor patio.
"There is significant deterioration of the bank along that west side of the structure," said Unified Fire Capt. Clint Smith. "There's the potential for collapse for that."
A cement slab was left hanging over the water after half the patio collapsed and crews began removing the roof Monday evening out of concern the roof would fall into the creek and cause a build-up of debris and create a dam — potentially causing further flooding, he said.
Extra sandbags were being placed along the banks of an apartment complex and an assisted living center near 1340 East and 7400 South.
Big Cottonwood Creek was causing fewer problems, mostly because workers were able to keep the debris fields more clear. However, it did cause serious damage to about six condos west of the old Cottonwood Mall, leaving 4four to 5five feet of water in the units, said Holladay city manager Randy Fitz.
Asleep in her condo at Chateau Foret at 4874 Highland Circle, Faye Bartle said she was awakened by police knocking on her door sometime after 10 p.m. Sunday telling her to evacuate.
"An officer carried me piggy-back to the parking lot," said Bartle, who lives in a second-story condo along Highland Circle — a street that was submerged in water. "I'm just numb. It's kind of unreal, like 'Is this really happening?' "
Her downstairs neighbor, Randi Smith, had been watching a movie Sunday night when she heard voices outside and went out to find the entire street covered in water and starting to cross onto the grass outside her condo.
"We tried to throw stuff on the bed," said Smith, who's been displaced from her home, as she described the scrambled scene as she and her boyfriend hurried to save valuables. "It happened so quick. I'm honestly lucky. Other people had it worse." But by Monday, the carpet, furniture and walls in Smith's condo were damaged and had to be removed.
In Murray, three lanes of State Street near 5100 South, just outside Murray City Park, were closed about 6 a.m. due to the overflowing Little Cottonwood Creek that runs through the park. The water on State Street was a foot deep in some spots, Murray Fire Marshal Russ Groves said.
The park was also closed until further notice because of swift currents and water with debris throughout the park. All sporting events, including those at Ken Price Ballpark, were also temporarily discontinued.
In addition to State Street, Vine Street — one block west of State — had flooding problems. The waters have come right up to a business complex that includes a bank and the Murray Boys and Girls Club, 244 E. Vine St. (5100 South).
One house near 5100 South and 300 East had 2 feet of water in it, Groves said.
"My mom called me about 4:30 (a.m.) and said 'Bring trucks,' " said Elaine Sharp, whose mother lives in the home. "When she said come, I came and didn't even expect to see this."
Parts of Murray Park itself were under 4 to 5 feet of water, Groves said.
City officials encouraged residents to stay away from Murray Park until the flooding situation is resolved.
In Midvale, assistant city manager Laurie Harvey said a state of emergency was declared about 9 p.m. Sunday, activating the city's emergency operations center. Salt Lake County also activated its emergency operations center as did Cottonwood Heights.
Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini encouraged people to clean debris out of their canals, because the debriswhich was causing problems Monday.
Cullimore called the work emergency crews were doing a "herculean effort."
In Summit County, residents faced flooding problems as well.
Bruce Obert, who has lived along the Weber River in Oakley, Summit County, since 1960, said Monday was the highest he has ever seen the river. Surrounded by dozens of volunteers building a wall of sandbags around his home, Obert said, "This is the worst I've ever seen it, even worse than '83."
Oakley's public works director, Ron Bowen, estimated more than 200 volunteers at Oakley's Town Center filled sandbags and helped place them around town. "When the bell rings and it is time to help, people show up," he said. "The football team (at South Summit High School) was in weight training and the coach sent them over and the kids in seminary started texting all their friends."
And down in Lehi, fire battalion chief Rick Howard said they started getting calls at 6 p.m. Sunday about flooded homes and began sandbagging homes near Dry Creek, the city's run-off channel, until 1:30 a.m. Monday.
At least two homes flooded with several inches of water along Dry Creek and three to seven other homes flooded from surface water rising through the saturated ground.
The National Weather Service canceled the flood warning for Little Cottonwood Creek at the mouth of the canyon, but continued it for the area between the mouth of the canyon and the Jordan River.
Salt Lake County Flood Control head Scott Baird said the emergency operations center near 3500 South and 900 West was receiving updated weather reports every 20 minutes. He said the only other creek or river in the county that had potential for flooding as of Monday was Little Willow Creek in Draper.
The floods "were brought on fairly quickly" due to the warm temperatures that started Saturday along the Wasatch Front, combined with heavy rainfall, and a late spring, meaning there was still a lot of unmelted snow in the mountains.
Approximately 500 volunteers helped with sandbagging and flood- control efforts Sunday. Volunteers on Monday were asked to go to the Salt Lake County Public Works complex, 604 W. 6960 South, to help fill sandbags. A call for volunteers was also being made at Cottonwood Heights Elementary School, 2415 E. Bengal (7530 South) Blvd. Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Coarroon said it wasn't necessary for volunteers to call ahead, just show up at the school to either help fill sandbags or collect the ones you need.
He also encouraged residents not to call 911 to report flooding unless it's an emergency. The number they should call for flooding updates is 801-743-7280, or they can go online to www.slcoem.org.
Contributing: Tom Smart, Abigail Shaha