Picking up the pieces at Camelot Resort after flash flood

Local News

DUCHESNE, Utah (News4Utah)  Several federal and local agencies gathered to answer questions for property owners impacted by the year-long area closure in Duchesne County.

Strawberry River Road west of Camelot resort is expected to remain closed for at least a year due to the damage from a recent flash flood and debris flow. Among the meeting attendees were the owners of Camelot Resort, a campground devastated by floodwaters and debris.

“Mother Nature may have hasn’t been on our side lately, but it doesn’t change the fact she provided all of this. It’s still here. We are still here,” Laura Larson, owner of Camelot Resort, said Tuesday. 

The owners spoke exclusively to News4Utah about the natural hazards that altered their summer. The resort typically hit peak season for business in July, instead this year, July brought evacuations from the Dollar Ridge Fire. 

“We kept thinking it would go away. It didn’t go away. It got worse,” Melissa Lopez-Larson explained in reference to the spread of the fire. 

Camelot was set to re-open with guests booked on July 25th, but with a massive burn scar and a strong thunderstorms tracking through the area, that never happened. A flash flood ripped through Timber Canyon and Camelot Resort on Sunday, July 22, producing debris 12 feet deep in some places, according to Duchesne County Road Department Director, Ben Henderson. The destruction tugs at the heartstrings of the Camelot owners. 

“We bought it two years ago, it was an investment property. And since then, we’ve grown to love our guests. we’ve met some amazing people we have met and it’s heartbreaking to not be able to share this with them, at least temporarily,” Larson said.

Campsites are covered with one to two feet of mud, debris litters the Strawberry River and surrounding areas int he campground and owners are working to prevent mold. It’s devastating and brings catastrophic out of pocket costs.

“We are most focused is assessing the damage, figuring out where to go from here and if the property is safe for people to be on, that’s of utmost importance,” Melissa Lopez-Larson said.

In the first community meeting post-flood, property owners met with several state and local agencies and asked for clear communication on how to proceed with clean up. The Duchesne County Road Department said many things are still unclear like funding for clean up, but it is very obvious the year-long closure is necessary because the area will likely flood again. 

“You guys showed video of one drainage of the 30 that were affected from the 22nd. We prefer they don’t go up in that canyon, you put your life in peril if you go up in there,” Ben Henderson, the Duchesne County Road Department Director, said.

“Deputies, search and rescue personnel and road crews will not respond to rescue people out of this area during future flooding events if the risk to first responders is deemed to be too great,” Sheriff Boren added.

The county will monitor this burn scar for the next three years and the National Weather Service plans to install a new weather station near the Dollar Ridge Fire burn scar by August. This is a measure to alert people of potential flash flooding in the area earlier than last time. As for the Camelot Resort, the year-long closure up the canyon is tough to stomach, but they are hoping next season will be better than this one. They say you can help by visiting the campground next season and soaking up the stunning canyon scenery. 

“Things happen in life, tragedy comes and goes, you pick up the pieces and move on. We will clean up, Next year is a new year, we’ve got a new season coming, and with that is new hope,” Laura Larson.

Camelot Resort is considering a few volunteer clean-up days in the future, if you would like to donate time or money, you can reach out to utahcamelotresort@gmail.com or call (801) 641-2798. 

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