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SARATOGA SPRINGS — After a storm caused flash flooding and mudslides Saturday on a burn scar in the Jacob's Ranch neighborhood, the city is asking for volunteers to clean up the mud from homes and is also making plans to prevent flooding in the future.
About 5,000 volunteers spent their weekend removing mud in bucket-lines and shoveling muddy water away from homes. LDS Church meetings were cancelled Sunday so members could join the cleanup effort. Heavy equipment worked the streets, and sandbag walls wound through neighborhoods. In Jacob's Ranch, at least four homes suffered severe damage, 20 homes had some kind of water damage, and one home may be a total loss. Talons Cove Golf Course was damaged as well.
"The boulders were coming through and broke through the windows and completely flooded up these rooms," said homeowner Raquel McManus. "It's scary, there's nothing you can do. It's out of your hands. You just wait it out and hope somebody or something is going to help you."
City officials, along with congressional candidate and Mayor Mia Love, on Monday announced short- and long-term plans to prevent future flooding in Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area.
"What the city is in the process of doing is, along with all the many volunteers, is to create cut-off channels and debris basins up above the city," city manager Mark Christensen said. "These are going to be more temporary in nature to try and capture the short-term nature of this."
The Jacob's Ranch neighborhood had mud and debris pass through it Saturday night after more than an inch of rain splashed down in about 20 minutes. Eleven homes were damaged in the mudslide, though none were condemned and only three experienced electrical problems because of the slide.
Much of the surrounding area was burned and scarred in June by the Dump Fire, which burned 5,500 acres.
Most of all, I'd like to thank the countless volunteers. We have been able to do quite a bit, and I'm telling you, only in the state of Utah could something like this happen where we can get this much cleanup in 24 hours. I am absolutely humbled by that.
"We have already received a grant from the state," Christensen said. "This was awarded to us shortly after the Dump Fire occurred in June. We've been working with the state, as well as with the experts at the state, to try and prepare, basically, three basins — much larger debris basins — up near the foothills for a permanent solution for this."
City crews and volunteers are also going to be working on berms and channels going through the city to direct debris flows in case the area is hit with more heavy rains before the city can execute long-term solutions.
Since the Dump Fire in June, Saratoga Springs had not yet done anything to prevent debris flows, but Christensen said plans to reseed the burn scar are already in place.
"We were not able to appropriately plan for the type of debris fields that we will need," he said. "All along we've been planning on reseeding this fall, and we've got some pretty large reseeding efforts to try and restore the vegetation up above the city and in the area that was burned and charred."
Because state grants and many property owners are involved, city crews have not started those projects, Christensen said.
Love spoke briefly and thanked local businesses and neighboring city Eagle Mountain for offering aid.
"Most of all, I'd like to thank the countless volunteers," she said. "We have been able to do quite a bit, and I'm telling you, only in the state of Utah could something like this happen where we can get this much cleanup in 24 hours. I am absolutely humbled by that."
Love said those wanting to make donations to the families affected by the flooding can visit saratogaspringsrelief.blogspot.com.
"On behalf of myself and the City Council, thank you very much," she said. "And we will continue getting this done."
Contributing: Jeff Finley