Alpine • An army of close to 900 people, many mud-splattered, fanned out through this Utah County city Sunday, clearing mud and debris from streets, gutters and culverts after Saturday’s flood.
City officials and residents scrambled Sunday morning to clear the damage, as a flash flood watch from the National Weather Service hung over their head and forecasters predicted rain most of the coming week.
Joseph McRae, battalion chief with the Lone Peak Fire Department, said the volunteers’ help was more than welcome.
"The public works department only has 10 men and two trucks," McRae said. "We have [residents] on Bobcats working on it."
He noted that this is the second time in two weeks residents have had to deal with flooding and clear debris from catch basins in the foothills.
One of those helping to clean up was Dan Oaks, who was using the snow plow attachment on his off-road vehicle to clear slippery mud and debris from the roads near 860 East.
Oaks said he first saw the flooding Saturday evening, when he and his wife were coming home from a date and saw a 3-foot wall of water coming down the street.
"When we were sandbagging two weeks ago, we thought this was a flood that only happened once a year," Oaks said.
Other volunteers built sandbag berms in front of houses to keep the water in the street and flowing toward nearby creeks, canals and drains.
Gary Vaughan, a member of the city’s emergency preparedness committee, said 500 people turned out to volunteer that morning, while another 400 came in at lunch, some from surrounding communities.
McRae, the battalion chief, said 15 homes were damaged in the flooding. He said part of the problem was clogged basins in the foothills, near the Quail Hollow fire scar.
Jed Muhlstein, the assistant city engineer, said recent flooding had washed away soil in channels on the burn scar down to bedrock, allowing the water to pour off the mountain. He said the High Bench irrigation ditch had become filled with debris, and crews were working to clear it out.
Vaughan said volunteers were busy Sunday morning cleaning out ditches and drains.
Flooding damage was also reported in Santaquin and Orem.
The southern half of Utah remained under a flash flood watch through midnight.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument and State Route 92 were also closed Sunday. While SR92 opened about 7:15 p.m., the cave was scheduled to remain closed into Monday because of slides from rock and debris from the storms.
The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City said a low pressure system was moving north and will spawn widespread shower and thunderstorm activity across all but the northwest corner of the state.
Heavy rainfall was expected statewide, but particularly along and to the east of Interstate 15.
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