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Haley Smith, KSL

Mudslide threatens homes in South Weber

By Whitney Evans and Andrew Adams | Posted - Feb 28th, 2014 @ 10:44pm


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SOUTH WEBER, Davis County — Heavy rain Thursday caused a mudslide that displaced several South Weber families from their homes overnight.

About 1.34 inches of rain triggered a late-night mudslide behind a set of four homes near 7700 South and 1650 East. The slide ran down a 300-yard hill, spanning 30 feet to 40 feet in width and about 200 feet in length.

Davis County sheriff's deputies received notice of heavy water flow on the hillside around 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to Davis County Undersheriff Brent Peters.

An emergency management responder spent the night in the areas, and between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. found that the mud was sloughing in the same area as one that hit eight years ago when a retention pond, filled to the brim, spilled over on the hill.

In 2006, a mudslide ran through the Davis-Weber canal and slammed into the back of a house. The force of impact shoved the cars in the garage through the garage doors and moved the house off its foundation. A 4-year-old girl's leg was broken when falling debris hit her. Twenty families were evacuated from their homes.

"I got woken up at like 1 a.m. with the fire department and stuff outside saying that we needed to evacuate," said resident Kjersten Campbell. "I couldn't see any water, I couldn't see any mud. We were just like, 'We're not risking it. We're just going to go.' "

Officials were concerned about a similar impact with Friday's slide, so they urged residents in four homes to evacuate.

"It was like a waterfall with rocks and mud, and you could hear the rocks and the mud," said David Hoggan, who lives near the area where the slide hit.

This is the third time Hoggan and his family have been evacuated. Twice in 2006, for the mudslide and a house explosion, and again Friday.

"I think we were living on, like, an Indian burial ground or something like that," Hoggan said.

As of midday, the mud was still 50 yards away from the homes, according to Peters. The evacuation order remained in place once the sun came out Friday, but families were able to return to their homes by 6 p.m.

"It's really more of a slough than a really big slide," Peters said.

Davis County and South Weber public works officials were assessing the scene to determine how to prevent further slides during additional rainfall expected Friday night.

According to Peters, a team of engineers worked with city and county public works officers digging lateral channels at the top of the hill to divert water from Friday night's storm away from the homes. Meanwhile, residents and volunteers set up a three-deep wall of sandbags.

Supplies for an emergency:

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAAWeather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contactlenses, syringes, cane)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information

Peters was optimistic there would not be any further problems Friday night, though if the rains resume, another voluntary evacuation might be activated.

"I don't think that storm (will be) as significant as the monster we had last night," Peters said Friday afternoon.

The community hoped that Friday's sun would dry out the hill before the evening's rain hit.

"Mother Nature caused it. We're hoping Mother Nature helps us out today, too," Peters said.

Other families recalled a similar flood and mud slide in their neighborhood in Alpine on Sept. 7, 2013. A wildfire wiped away vegetation on a section of the Alpine hill, making the neighborhoods below a prime spot for flooding.

"It was like a black monster lava. It just came," Vicky Reay said.

It was the same storm that washed out Lavell Edwards stadium ahead of the BYU-Texas game, but football was far from Forrest Burnett's mind.

"It was about 3 feet deep and 150 feet wide," Burnett said. "The rocks that came down, it sounded like a 747 jet coming right at you."

Burnett has been working to protect his home and back yard since last year's flooding, and urged other people in the paths of potential flooding to be proactive. He also said it's important for people to look out for their neighbors.

"If people know that there is some danger, they should do something to protect themselves," Burnett said.

Rich Woodruff of the American Red Cross said it's never too early to prepare for flood season.

"We want you to be thinking ahead of what you are going to do if you're under extreme pressure to have to evacuate your house," Woodruff said.

Woodruff is equipped with dozens of tips to help prepare for flash flooding. Some of the advice is obvious: prepare 72-hour kits with emergency blankets, food, water, medications, clothes, baby supplies, pet supplies and batteries.

Other advice is less top-of-mind. Woodruff suggested having key documents handy to take with you in the case of an evacuation: medicine lists, birth certificates, the deed to the house and insurance policies.

Family photos can also be useful in dire circumstances.

"A lot of people, they get separated from their pets. Woodruff said. "Have a picture taken of your animals so you can reconnect with them afterward."

Trying to escape can often be as hazardous as staying in a home threatened by flooding.

Woodruff warned that even 6 inches of water can sweep people off their feet, and 2 feet of water can wash away a car.

"A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I've got clearance, I can just drive through that,' " Woodruff said. "It's very, very dangerous."

Contributing: Haley Smith, Mike Anderson, Ashely Kewish

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