WILLARD, Utah (ABC4) — Flash floods pummeled through Willard yesterday, and one family’s home may have been the worst hit in the area.
The Brown family got little sleep last night as they worked into the early morning hours cleaning up mud and debris after their property was hit hard by flash flooding.
The 200 South area has large rocks, dried mud, and small tree limbs scattered across the pavement. The street runs from Highway 89 east up the bench. At the top sits the Brown’s home which may have been the worst hit in the area.
During the downpour Thursday, Aug. 3, Brown stepped out onto her back porch to get some video of the storm. The video shows heavy rainfall, so heavy that it greatly reduced visibility. As it poured, it loudly beat against the roof.
“I have never seen any storm like this,” Danielle Brown stated. The family built the home 18 years ago. Others in the area told ABC4 that it was the most intense storm they had ever seen as well. In fact, one neighbor who has lived in Willard for 30 years said the same.
Moments after Brown got some footage of the rain it slowed down, but that’s when the worst hit.
“I was scared to death,” Brown said. “My husband wasn’t here, he was at work, I couldn’t get a hold of him.” The Brown’s home is the highest along the bench in the area. After the rain stopped at their house, runoff from the mountains above their home rushed towards the house.
Initially, it was so filled with dirt and debris that it looked like brown concrete racing across the back lawn.
“My neighbors couldn’t get over here, couldn’t cross to do anything and there wasn’t much of anything anybody could do. My basement walkway filled up in five minutes,” Brown said.
When the water stopped racing down the mountainside, the real damage was revealed. The outside doorway leading into the Brown’s basement was filled with a few feet of thick sludge. Brown said she was worried the weight of all the water was going to knock down the door or windows and rush into her home.
“I had neighbors, good neighbors, coming and helping and they were getting stuck in the mud down there trying to find the drains to help drain it,” she said.
By Friday afternoon, the water had receded, But the mess was still far from being cleaned. While the Browns were able to get the water away from their home, some of it still made it into their basement.
Brown’s mother made the trip up from St. George Thursday night to help. While ABC4 was at the home, Brown’s mother, daughter, and friend were helping clean the basement. Outside, Brown’s husband, neighbors, brother and friends were using heavy machinery to move soil, road base and other materials that had been washed away in the water.
The north side of the home looked like a dry riverbed after the water cleared out nearly a foot of earth, leaving nothing but large rock exposed. Brown said all the help has been a major blessing, but she still catches herself crying on and off.
“My husband’s kept me on track because it’s been so hard. He’s the strong one,” Brown stated.
She told ABC4 that there’s been another blessing. At the back of their property line, there is a large berm which they built years ago. It is at least 10 feet tall. That berm redirected the water from hitting the home directly. She said if it hadn’t been there, the water would have gone straight into the back door.
While the berm helped protect their home from the worst of the flooding, they’re estimating that the water still washed away nearly 50 tons of gravel and other landscaping materials from their property. “It just came down that mountain so fast and just ruined everything,” Brown said.
The Browns told ABC4 that they have home insurance. However, they don’t have flood insurance. To help cover some of the cleanup costs, their daughters have started a GoFundMe account.