Community comes together for Main Street cleanup effort in Washington City

Cleanup and sandbagging efforts get underway in the aftermath of a flash flood that ripped down Main Street the night of July 13, 2018. The looming threat of a new storm heading in prompted the filling and placement of sandbags around homes and street corners in Washington City, Utah, July 14, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Members of the community came out to aid their neighbors in the wake of flooding that tore down Main Street in Washington City Friday night.

I think we’ve worked on about 16 homes so far,” Washington City Council member Daniel Cluff said Saturday afternoon as he was out in the city helping to direct sandbag placement. “We’re trying to clean everything, and we’ve had so much support from all of the different cities and volunteers.”

Cleanup and sandbagging efforts get underway in the aftermath of a flash flood that ripped down Main Street the night of July 13, 2018. The looming threat of a new storm heading in prompted the filling and placement of sandbags around homes and street corners in Washington City, Utah, July 14, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Many area residents and personnel from Santa Clara were helping clean the streets while other volunteers helped residents hit by the flooding remove mud and muck from their homes.

Read more: Homes flood, power goes out as ‘significant’ rainfall hits Washington City

The 16 homes Cluff mentioned experienced various levels of flooding. Some homes only had their yards destroyed, while others experienced flooding indoors.

The homes with basements were hit the worst, Cluff said, noting that the water went from floor to ceiling.

An official estimate of how many homes were impacted by the flooding has yet to be determined.

Despite the damage wrought by the flooding, Cluff said, it has helped bring the community together as neighbor helps neighbor.

Many of the volunteers were members of local wards from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were alerted to the flooding and told to bring their shovels.

Cleanup and sandbagging efforts get underway in the aftermath of a flash flood that ripped down Main Street the night of July 13, 2018. The looming threat of a new storm heading in prompted the filling and placement of sandbags around homes and street corners in Washington City, Utah, July 14, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Rodney Tracy was heading home from a scout campout in the morning when he received the text message from his ward about the flooding and cleanup effort. He was out on Main Street with his wife, Amy, and had a shovel in hand.

“We got the text saying, ‘There are houses flooded on Main Street, there are houses flooded everywhere in the ward. Bring shovels.’ I’m like, ‘OK, as soon as I get back,” Tracy said.

“I think it’s great that everybody comes out and helps when they see their neighbors needing a hand and they’re willing to step up and do what needs to get done,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Read more: ‘Do not drink the water’; Flooding contaminates Panguitch water system

When general cleanup of the area appeared to slow down by late afternoon, activity jumped back up as volunteers began laying sandbags in front of homes and along street corners.

Cleanup and sandbagging efforts get underway in the aftermath of a flash flood that ripped down Main Street the night of July 13, 2018. The looming threat of a new storm heading in prompted the filling and placement of sandbags around homes and street corners in Washington City, Utah, July 14, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

There were worries that a new storm rolling across the area Saturday would hit Washington City yet again and create a new round of flooding.

“That’s why there was a frenzy of sandbag-filling and other things,” Washington City Manager Roger Carter said.

Washington City firefighters and volunteers filled up sandbags behind the Police Department that were then thrown onto the backs of pickup trucks. Those trucks were then driven to spots along Main Street where the sandbags were placed in order to prevent new flooding.

It’s estimated by the National Weather Service that between 2 and 3 inches came down on Washington City in a rapid amount of time Friday night, Carter said, noting that the exact duration of rain has yet to be determined.

The city’s storm drain system recorded flows of up to 300 cubic-feet of water per second.

“That’s a massive amount of water in a short period of time,” Carter said.

Read more: Thunder cell moves through Dammeron Valley ‘with a vengeance’; 200 homes affected, volunteers needed

Fortunately, the fears of a second round of flooding were lessened as the NWS told Washington City officials that the storm had been downgraded and they could except some light rain instead. Even so, Carter said people need to remain vigilant and prepared, especially during monsoon season.

“Again, it’s monsoon season for us,” he said. “It’s important for everyone to stay vigilant, and we as a city are going to stay vigilant.”

Carter encourages the public to pay attention to the city’s Facebook pages and social media outlets in order to stay informed of any possible alerts in weather.

As the afternoon turned to early evening, meals from by Black Bear Diner were delivered and handed out to the volunteers and flood victims. There were around 100 meals donated to the cause, City Council Troy Belliston said while delivering the food.

“The public has been fantastic,” Carter said of the volunteer cleanup effort. “People from around the community have come out to help each other out. … It’s neighbor helping neighbor.”

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Robert July 15, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    All that water came through the freeway underpass. Streets to either side of Main St. were just fine. Seems to me if the city built some sort of catch basin or series of diverters on the north side of the freeway all that damage could have been avoided.

  • mshaw July 15, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Shaw will say the drains worked until they didnt!

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