National Guard on the scene at Weber Co. levee break

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WARREN, Weber County — The National Guard is helping residents fight a broken levee.

Two Blackhawk helicopters arrived in the flooded area of Weber County at about 9:15 a.m. Friday, to lift 50 one-ton sandbags into the area where the Thursday morning levee break began spilling water.

County officials say they've been repairing weak spots in the river for weeks. When the levee gave way, water flowed into a 100-year canal called Little Weber that crews had been building bigger berms along -- but there's just too much water at once.

Farmland in the area is flat, and the water has no place else to go. Neighboring fields have been covered with standing water for weeks. But the long-term damage may be felt in the months to come.

Flood Warnings
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the following counties in Utah:

Until 4:30 p.m. Friday
  • Southeastern Juab
  • Central Piute
  • Southwestern Sanpete
  • Western Sevier
Until 12:45 p.m. Saturday
  • East central Weber
Until 2:45 p.m. Friday
  • Northern Morgan
  • Northwestern Summit
  • Northeastern Davis
Until 9:00 a.m. Sunday
  • Western Grand

If crews cannot maintain the flood and waters continue to rise, the worst-case scenario would be to cut the canal. If that happens, water would be cut off to farmers to the west and they would lose their crops.

Officials are still working on a plan of action, trying to decide if they should put in pipes, shore up the levee or leave it alone. However, Weber County spokesman Mike Caldwell said the primary objective this morning is keeping the breach in the levee from getting bigger.

"The damage has already been done. If we can keep the break from getting bigger, we know where the water is going and we can keep it moving," he said.

The break is threatening a number of homes and agricultural land just east of the Great Salt Lake.

Those impacted by the flooding in western Weber County are on edge, waiting to see what happens next.

Gary Nielsen's home is fortified by sandbags but is now surrounded by a lake in his yard.

"We've got a couple lines of defense. We've got some big berms around. We can still go up maybe another foot and a half before it gets to the sandbags," he said. "I think we're okay as long as there's a big canal behind our house."

Not far away, another neighbor is not so lucky. Delores Devaul's house had problems Thursday after the levee break that got worse overnight. She's been able to maintain a small, dry perimeter around her house, but water is encroaching on the garage.

"We've done everything we can and we've moved everything outside of the yard that we could move that we had places to take," she said. "We're just hoping it doesn't get inside the house."

Even more puzzling is just how fickle the flooding is. Less than a half mile away, a woman was not only completely out of flood danger, she was watering her yard.

Officials are also keeping an eye on water levels at one of the catch points in the canal. They've had sandbags in place a month ago, something the neighbors acknowledge. Residents and property owners are advised to use these sandbags, which they can pick up at 5500 West and 500 North in Warren.


Story written by Steve Fidel, Courtney Orton and Andrew Adams.


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