Homeless rescued, evacuated as Jordan River floods campsites

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) –  Jesse Gallegos woke up wet and cold. 

He didn’t realize he was sleeping in water until he looked around him.

Salt Lake City fire officials said about two inches of water fell in the early morning hours.  The rainfall caused low lying areas along the Jordan River to flood.  

Gallegos and his friends are homeless and last night set up their tent in the brush next to the Jordan River.  At around 2 a.m. Wednesday, he sensed trouble, water was all around him.

“That’s what woke me up,” said Gallegos.  “(It was) from the rain and I was soaking wet.”

He and others gathered what they could and headed to higher ground.

News4Utah found them huddled near a covered picnic area near the Jordan River.  

They were wet and cold. One woman had her foot covered.  She said she was OK but cold.  Others stayed warm in blankets but it couldn’t cover their wet shoes.  Hot coffee was poured in a can that once contained corn.  Michael Sanchez said the sudden rain caught them by surprise.

“I didn’t think it was going to flood up like that, that fast,” Sanchez said.  “This is like really quick.  It happened like within an hour and a half.”

The rain also brought out the Salt Lake City Fire Department.  They were called out to rescue a couple who had been living along the banks of the river but were caught in the water.

“They couldn’t get out on their own,” said Lt. Dan Marlowe with the fire department.  “As a result, they were pushed up onto the bank by the water and it got to the point where they couldn’t move and were stuck there as the water arose around them.”

Once the water recedes they’ll return to their campsite in hopes of salvaging the property they abandoned.

But for now, they have no idea where they’ll bed down come sunset.

“It’s a guessing game we don’t know where to go,”  said Gallegos.

One place they will not go to is the homeless shelter.  Gallegos said it’s much too dangerous and every time he goes there his property is stolen.

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