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Saratoga Springs begins recovery from flood of mud
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Saratoga Springs • More than 1,000 volunteers were helping dozens of Saratoga Springs residents clean up on Sunday, a day after powerful storms moved through the city.

More than two dozen homes were damaged. Meanwhile, nasty-smelling sludge from the recent Dump Fire burn scar continued to drip down the nearby mountainside into the same neighborhood residents were trying to help clean.

Mayor Mia Love said 11 basements were filled with mud, some so much so that mud was seeping through the floor boards on the ground level. Another 20 homes were damaged by water during Saturday night's storms, which brought torrential downpours and sent swiftly moving water and mud into nearby homes and streets.

The path of the sludge seemed to have no rhyme or reason, neighbors said. As it plowed its way down city streets, it spared some homes seemingly right in the path, but engulfed others.

It spared the home of Rene Schuurman, but left 6 inches of mud in the basement of his neighbor, Alan Rencher.

Rencher said he was home Saturday night when he heard the water and mud heading toward him.

When he looked out, he saw water and mud pushing a car down the street. Moments later, Rencher said, he "had 6 inches of mud in my basement and I'm one of the lucky ones."

Very few residents apparently had flood insurance as their homes sit on a hill, but hoped that insurance companies would consider Saturday's damage as wildfire-related and cover the losses.

"I don't have flood insurance," Schuurman said. "I don't think anyone has it around here. Who would have ever thought there would have been flooding in this area?"

What was once a beautiful, grassy park had turned into a swamp. The mud flowed with such force that it ripped and twisted metal fences that separated homes.

Patti Robe, of Saratoga Springs, and her daughter, Karin, spent the morning helping empty a basement filled with mud so the homeowners could salvage possessions such as pictures.

Other volunteers were part of a "bucket brigade" composed of about a dozen people feeding mud-filled buckets back and forth along a line.

"I've never seen anything like it," Robe said. "I can't believe one basement was completely full with mud and every [basement] window was shattered."

The homes that suffered the most damage were in the northwestern portion of the Jacob's Ranch subdivision near 2100 South and 400 West, officials said.

The sludge, which refilled culverts and drains just as fast as the volunteers could unclog them, smelled like burned fire debris.

Red Cross volunteer Shaun Heaton said volunteers had been taking two-hour shifts since 8 a.m.

"It's been wonderful to see all the volunteers out here helping," he said.

Love said she was working on getting the neighborhood declared a federal disaster zone so the area could potentially receive federal money to assist with the cleanup.

The flooding forced the closure of Redwood Road for about four hours Saturday night.

The city said affected residents were asking for help in cleaning out basements and removing debris from gutters and storm drain channels. Volunteers who want to help with cleanup efforts were being asked to avoid parking on the affected streets — Ruger, Appaloosa, Weatherby and Lariat — and instead park on other side streets or in a church parking lot on Weatherby.

Utahns could expect sunny skies statewide Monday for the Labor Day holiday. Temperatures were expected to be in the 80s in northern Utah and in the upper 90s in southern Utah.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle Natural disaster: Is flooding covered by homeowner's policy?

Flooding is one of two disasters — the other being earthquakes — that are not covered by traditional homeowner's insurance policies. Although fire damage is covered, earthquake and flooding coverage must be purchased separately.

One common misconception is that if your home floods, you will get federal disaster assistance. Even if you do qualify for such assistance, it's more likely to be in the form of a loan instead of an actual reimbursement for damage to your property.

Not sure whether to get flood insurance? Go to the National Flood Insurance Program website, Floodsmart.gov, for help determining whether you should purchase the coverage. Homeowners also may call the NFIP at 1-800-427-2419 for more information. Note: There's typically a 30-day waiting period on new flood insurance policies.

Dozens of homes damaged in mudslides so powerful they ripped, twisted metal fences.
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