'It's still kind of a shock': Enoch declares emergency as cleanup from floods begins across Utah

An aerial view of flooding in Enoch, Iron County, after a storm on Sunday. City officials say at least 2.5 inches of rain hit the city Sunday.

An aerial view of flooding in Enoch, Iron County, after a storm on Sunday. City officials say at least 2.5 inches of rain hit the city Sunday. (Enoch City)

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ENOCH, Iron County — At least 2.5 inches and as much as 4 inches of rain dumped over the eastern half of Enoch on Sunday, causing widespread flooding that damaged more than 200 homes, city officials said Monday.

"The water came through and all the houses down here (and it) just blow down all the fences — posts and everything," said Enoch resident Laura Rigtrup.

Drone footage posted to YouTube by residents Scott Draper and Brian C. after the rain subsided showed rows of flooded streets. The city estimates that at least 1 in 10 homes in the community was affected by severe flooding, with some homes' basements filled to the ceiling with floodwater. Rains also flooded alfalfa fields and the I-15 freeway in the area.

The damage was severe enough that Enoch Mayor Geoffrey Chestnut declared a state of emergency as a result of the flooding. The city joined Iron County and nearby Cedar City in issuing states of emergency over monsoonal rain flooding in recent weeks.

Residents near Half Mile Road in Enoch were hit especially hard. Laura and Keith Rigtrup's home was among the damaged homes. The floodwater was so strong that it broke through a basement window and filled their basement with 2 to 3 feet of mud and water.

"It's still kind of a shock that this is what your house looks like," said Keith Rigtrup, as he sifted through the flood damage Monday.

Despite the loss, the couple said they were appreciative of their friends and neighbors who helped clean the damage at their home. They planned to help out others in the community as soon as they completed their own cleanup.

A Washington County disaster assessment team is scheduled to arrive in Enoch on Tuesday to figure out an exact damage cleanup cost. Meanwhile, the Red Cross set up a shelter for affected residents at a former church located at 451 E. Midvalley Road in Enoch.

City officials added Monday that while there was widespread flood damage, the town's culinary water was not affected by the storm and is safe to drink.

Enoch wasn't the only community impacted by Sunday's storms. Here's how they impacted the state:

Mineworker killed by Emery County flash flood

Flooding resulted in the death of a man at the surface of the Gentry Mountain Mine located in Bear Canyon within Emery County Sunday night. County officials said water and debris came rushing through the canyon shortly after 10 p.m. and overtook multiple mine vehicles as workers clocked out for the night.

An occupant of one of the vehicles was swept away by the rushing water. Crews found the man's body about six miles downtstream late Monday morning.

More information about the incident can be found here.

Dozens of Tooele County homes damaged, elderly woman rescued after 'wall of water' slams Stockton

Over an inch of rain was reported in some northern Utah areas, as well.

At least 34 homes and three businesses in Tooele County were damaged from flash floods Sunday, according to the county. Both officials from the city of Tooele and Tooele County are still assessing damage and offering sandbags to those who need them.

Some of the most severe flooding occurred in the community of Stockton, just south of Tooele City. Stockton Police Chief Travis Romney told KSL NewsRadio's "Dave and Dujanvic" show on Monday that police received reports around 6:45 p.m. that Soldier Creek had started to overrun its banks in Soldier Canyon, east of the community.

Floodwater rushes past homes near Soldier Canyon in Stockton on Sunday, Aug. 1. Stockton Police Chief Travis Romney said a woman was rescued after water flooded her home.
Floodwater rushes past homes near Soldier Canyon in Stockton on Sunday, Aug. 1. Stockton Police Chief Travis Romney said a woman was rescued after water flooded her home. (Photo: Stockton Fire Department)

"And within about 15 minutes after that, we essentially had a wall of water come down Soldier Canyon," he said. "It washed out about six properties there, at the mouth of the canyon. We had six homes there where their basements were basically taken out. Some of their main floors were washed out."

Emergency crews responded to a home located in the area of 1355 S. Copper Street and rescued an elderly woman who was initially trapped as the floodwater entered her home. The woman, in her 80s, was helped to the second floor of her home until the Stockton Fire Department could clear out debris outside of the home and get her out.

Romney said water was "smashing" into the east side of the home. Crews entered the west side of the home and got the woman out before it would have been "inaccessible" to reach her until floodwaters subsided, which he said happened about 30 to 45 minutes after crews arrived.

The woman wasn't injured in the ordeal and was reunited with her family not long after being rescued, according to Romney.

The floodwaters continued west to state Route 36, where they flooded the roadway there. The flooding was severe enough that the highway was closed for several hours. The Utah Department of Transportation used plows to clear water and debris from the roadway and it reopened early Monday morning.

The rain also flooded railroad tracks, which halted Union Pacific trains Sunday evening. Romney said that the tracks, much like the highway, were closed for several hours before reopening early Monday.

In addition, Stockton officials posted on social media Monday that the town's intake was flooded and blocked. Officials are urging residents to not water their lawns or use irrigation water until further notice. Only household and stock water are allowed for the time being.

Rains flood Primary Children's Hospital, U. and East High

While just 0.18 inches were recorded Sunday at the National Weather Service's station at the Salt Lake City International Airport, more than 1.5 inches fell near the University of Utah campus at the eastern bench of the city Sunday. In fact, over 2 inches were reported in the area between Sunday and Monday.

KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman said many parts of the city received more than a "summer's worth of rain" from Sunday's storm alone.

Primary Children's Hospital, which is located in the same area of the U. campus, reported flooding mostly on the west side of its building, according to a spokeswoman for the hospital. In a statement to KSL on Monday, officials said patients in affected areas were relocated to dry areas in the hospital and that all nonemergency surgeries planned for Monday in flooded parts of the hospital were rescheduled.

Officials added that the flooding was caused by "overwhelmed" roof drains that were temporarily placed during construction by the hospital. Cleanup at the hospital continued Monday.

A spokesperson for the University of Utah said there were "a handful of offices" working remotely Monday as a result of some flooding Sunday. That included those who have offices in the basement of the Park Building, which is where the university administration staff works. The building suffered some minor flooding that was still being cleaned up Monday.

Some offices at the university's Madsen Health Center were closed Monday for cleanup after water affected the first floor of the building. There was also some flooding at University of Utah student housing buildings but no students were impacted or had to be relocated.

The rains also flooded the East High School gymnasium located not far from the university campus. Jason Olsen, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City School District, told KSL-TV that floodwater came down 800 South, and instead of continuing down the street, it cut diagonally and through the front door of the school's gymnasium. It was similar to flooding that happened about four years ago.

Crews began working overnight to clean up the debris and damage. The cleanup there also remains ongoing.

UDOT clears slides blocking canyon roadways

Flooding was reported across roads throughout the state Sunday but some areas suffered more. For instance, both directions within a 10-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 89 in Spanish Fork Canyon closed Sunday as a result of storm damage in the canyon. One lane was opened to alternating traffic mid-Monday before both directions reopened Monday afternoon.

Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons also reopened Monday morning after slides "massive" flooding and land erosion were reported at both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons Sunday evening.

"It got gradually worse and worse throughout the night and we had large-scale debris come clear across the lanes and block all lanes of traffic," said Jake Brown, UDOT's roadway operations manager for the Cottonwood Canyons.

In all, about six slides were reported in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Boulders at least the size of basketballs blanketed some parts of the roadway. Brown said Guardsman Pass wasn't affected and motorists were able to get down from the canyons using that road.

Once cars were removed, equipment vehicles were brought in to clear the roadway. It reopened Monday but work isn't complete yet.

Water cascades down a debris pile at Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Aug. 2. The pile was pushed to the side of the road following a rockslide in the canyon Sunday evening.
Water cascades down a debris pile at Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Aug. 2. The pile was pushed to the side of the road following a rockslide in the canyon Sunday evening. (Photo: KSL-TV)

Crews are slated to begin emergency work Tuesday to clear out debris and repair drainage paths in Big Cottonwood Canyon, according to Brown. The work will result in one-way traffic, which is expected to cause travel delays.

With the possibility of more monsoonal flooding in the near future, Brown urged motorists who drive through the canyons to be prepared. For instance, UDOT reported encountering several drivers who ran out of gas and had to be helped to get out of the canyon while others parked near areas of landslides.

"You never know what you may encounter," he said. "We just want to have people prepared for flash floods and have your vehicle prepared to come up here. Sometimes you might have to wait a while for us to get the road cleared."

More rain to start the week but then it dries out

As the cleanup from Sunday's widespread storms continues, so has the rain — at least for now.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for a majority of southern and eastern Utah on Monday morning. The agency expected flash floods at many of the state's natural wonders, such as Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks. Flooding is also probable at Bryce Canyon and possible at Zion National Park.

The watch escalated to warnings in parts of southeast Utah, including Lake Powell and Capitol Reef National Park as the day continued. Meteorologists tweeted they received a report of flash flooding at Grand Wash inside Capitol Reef National Park on Monday afternoon.

Flash flood warnings were also issued for parts of Carbon and Emery counties, including by the Trail Mountain Fire burn scar near Crandall Canyon as the day progressed.

KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank said the moisture — a welcomed relief from the state's drought but a nuisance for communities experiencing multiple floods — is on its way out as a high-pressure system that helped push the rain north into the state that settles over Utah.

"We'll see a few clouds over the next couple of days but really the pattern is one of high pressure, a return to sunshine (and) drier conditions," he said.

Temperatures are also expected to return to the mid-to-low 90s beginning Wednesday in the Wasatch Front. Temperatures already returned to triple-figures in St. George on Monday and will remain in the 100s or near it throughout the week.

Full forecasts for areas across Utah can be found at the KSL Weather Center.

Contributing: Tamara Vaifanua, Ladd Egan and Tania Dean, KSL-TV; Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic, KSL NewsRadio

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.


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