News LIVE: Storm hits Washington, homes flooded; STGnews Photo Gallery

400 N. Main Street, Washington. Thunderstorm across Washington County, Utah, Aug. 18, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

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WASHINGTON CITY – A severe thunderstorm making its way across Washington County toward Iron County has public safety crews and citizens alike scrambling to manage waters and storm-driven debris and flooding in Washington.

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Videocast by Holly Coombs and Kimberly Scott, St. George News

At 5:45 p.m. Main Street in Washington, where it runs under Interstate 15 closed and remained closed until around 6:30 p.m.

Washington City saw roads closed and homes flooded, Washington City Fire Chief Brent Hafen said, particularly in the area of Main Street and Buena Vista, and Telegraph at about 500 West.

“We had a lightning strike on a house out at Coral Canyon,” Hafen said, “and it popped all their breakers and shut their power and everything off.”

Hurricane Valley sent a fire crew over to help with the Coral Canyon lightning strike because Washington City’s resources were tied up in other areas.

Some areas around 300 West and 500 South got some heavy flooding in one of the new subdivisions with a lot of open dirt and unfilled areas, Hafen said.

By 6 p.m., when Hafen was interviewed, most of the storm cells appeared to have passed.

“We’re just kind of watching now for flood waters that may come off of the foothills – off of Pine Valley – that would drain back down into the Coral Canyon area and into Washington,” Hafen said, “and hopefully that doesn’t increase any of our waterways.”

He said most of Washington’s waterways are big enough to handle some pretty good water.

Standing water and torrential rains slowed and in some cases brought traffic to a standstill on I-15 north of Washington’s Exit 10 through Exit 15 to Hurricane.

Flooded homes

Linda Smith and her husband, Gary Smith, live in the flooded area.

“We’ve lived here for 25 years and we’ve asked them to open that culvert,” Linda Smith said, “and this is the third time we’ve been flooded so we are going to go to the city this time … I have like 4 feet of water inside my house.”

Pointing at houses from a nearby corner up and around Main Street, Linda Smith said that all the houses flooded.

Three homes off of 400 North Main Street in Washington also received flood damage. A residence in unit 54 was among the worst with water being pumped out and swept out.

Heather Smith was among about 50 neighbors helping clean the mess.

“I live across the street here,” Smith said. “I wasn’t one of the first responders because I was picking up my daughter from Pine View High School. I knew this was something that typically happens when it rains.”

The flooding has been a yearly occurrence and the unit 54 house has flooded before in the past few years, she said. Much appreciation is given for the neighbors aiding the flood damage, she said.

“This flood makes you appreciate your neighbors and that they can come and just help at any given time,” Smith said.

At approximately 5 p.m., Shane Morris said he asked his neighbor if their house was OK. A short time later, Morris said he went outside and his neighbors were asking for help and the flood was coming in.

“Someone said there was a car in the gutter diverting water so it wouldn’t go into the driveway,” he said. “People then came and started pulling rocks to also get the water stopped.”

Morris’ home was across the street from the flooded houses. He said his wife put a board across their driveway to keep the water from getting to their house, as it was not affected.

“Last year this happened,” he said. “The problem is that the city has some drainage problems they are not addressing properly so it continues to cause more problems.”

St. George News Reporter Holly Coombs contributed information to this report.

READ MORE: Traffic Advisory: Downpour on I-15, standing water, standstill traffic

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

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  • tialyn August 18, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I was out driving and got caught in the worst of this storm in spots I could barely see through the windshield I finally found a spot and just pulled over to give it time to let up cause I couldn’t see at all in places. It was so crazy

  • Concerned Local August 18, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    When is the city going to address these issues seriously? It is so sad to see such wonderful community members times and again having to deal with these messes. One time is a fluke, repeats are something that should not be happening. It’s really time this issue be addressed and fixed. I am sorry for all of our fellow residents who are suffering tonight. My heart goes out to you! There has to be an answer…retention ponds, drainage systems, etc…Sad. Please Washington City help these good folks!

    • Koolaid August 18, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Address these issues? Seriously? Your city allowed these homes to be built on flood plain zones. Every time it rains, it floods throughout Washington City. That’s not normal and not the result of good planning. I wonder if these floods are the result of city council members having conflicting interest of government and personal development endeavors.

  • Koolaid August 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I got an idea. Let’s build homes in flood plains!

  • hummynbyrd August 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The city should have to pay for the cleanup, damages, and places for these families to stay while everything is being taken care of! It is ridiculous that the city has not taken care of these issues a long time ago, after the first time! Why they allowed all of these houses to be built in a flood plain in the first place without a proper drainage system is beyond ridiculous. Oh….our crops keep getting washed away, not a good place for our farms so let’s build a bunch of houses here instead…people won’t even realize they’re getting ripped off until it’s too late for them hahahahahahaha!! Sad….

  • Washington local August 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

    The homes in Washington proper that are being flooded are not in the flood plain, they are flooding due to the improper management of the natural and original water ways and culverts. The water is being diverted and natural paths are completely disregarded as the landscape is changed or new buildings are erected.

  • getting flooded August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Could call mike shaw the public works director but he I’d probably with his girlfriend or riding around in his over priced motor coach

  • concerned citizen August 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    City is built to handle the water. But there is no way any system in the valley can handle 1 inch of rain in 15 minutes its just not possible to much water to fast. It would cost them millions to try to redo it all, and then our taxes would increase outrageously.

  • getting flooded September 3, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Oh and ask … field what she paid for her used Washington citys crown Vic I’m sure that they worked out a next to nothing deal for that
    Ed. ellipsis

  • getting flooded September 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

    … got a ford truck and got to see what the sealed bids was before he bought his ford truck from …
    Ed. ellipses.

  • DAVE RABBITT September 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    To put this into a different perspectve for all of you:

    The City of St. George has an area of 64.9 sq. mile (41,536 acres)… (Washington is half the size, at 32.5 square miles)

    In this article: News LIVE: Post storm cleanup begins; Updated at 2:35 p.m.

    – Joyce Kuzmanic quoted Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George. He said: “An estimated 1 ½ to 2 inches of rain hit St. George between 10:30-11:30 a.m.”

    There is 27,154 gallons of water, in 1 inch of rainfall (per acre). St. George alone, has an area of 64.9 sq. miles (or; 41,536 acres)

    27,154 (gallons of water) * 41,536 (acres) = 1,127,868,544 gallons of water… 1.127 BILLION gallons of water!
    With 1.5 inhes of rain, that equates to: 1,691,802,816 gallons and with 2 inches of rain: 2,255,737,088 gallons (2″)

    One ACRE FOOT of water = 325,851.429 US gallons and the capacity of Quail Creek Reservoir, is 40,325 acre feet of water.
    (13,139,958,874.425 gallons)… The capacity of Sand Hollow Reservoir is: 51,360 acre feet of water (16,735,729,393.44 gallons)

    12.8% – 17.1% of the capacity of QUAIL CREEK RESERVOIR, fell on the city of St. George… in 30 minutes!

    So, I agree with CONCERNED CITIZEN, who stated: “City is built to handle the water. But there is no way any system in the valley can handle 1 inch of rain in 15 minutes its just not possible to much water to fast. It would cost them millions to try to redo it all, and then our taxes would increase outrageously”.

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