‘I think we’re ready to wrap this year as a community’: Utahns react to Tuesday’s wind storm

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Hundreds of thousands of residents along the Wasatch Front woke up Tuesday morning to damage and destruction sustained by powerful wind gusts. 

The strongest gusts hit Davis and Weber counties, specifically cities that are at the mouth of canyons such as Farmington, Centerville, Kaysville, Bountiful, and Ogden. But cities north of that like Logan and as far south as Murray experienced damage as well.

An abundance of fallen trees, power outages, smashed cars, and damaged property could be seen all over the area. Blocks of businesses experienced power outages, causing them to close down for the entire day. On Capitol Hill alone, the storm knocked over eight historic evergreens and snapped dozens of trees in half.

Martha Black, who lives in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City said a tree from her neighbor’s yard fell over and destroyed her fence, which she estimates will cost her thousands of dollars.

“It’s been quite a ride. COVID, earthquake, now this. I mean, I think I don’t know what is next but I hope this year just ends. Just, I think we’re ready to wrap this year as a community,” she said. “This is just scary.”

Larry Foote, who owns property in the Avenues saw multiple trees topple over on his block. He said he had been asking the city for years to chop down the dead trees impacted by bark beetles.

“I knew this was going to happen. I’ve been warning them for five years. We get homeless people around here who camp out on this lawn. We’re lucky someone didn’t get killed,” he said.

Debris and uprooted trees blocked access to some roads, prompting residents to take on the initiative of cleaning up the debris on their own, knowing that crews were backed up with calls.  Asher Whitesides and his wife were two of those people.

“Shortly after we woke up, the power went out because a tree fell on our line coming into our house. Our backyard just looks like a warzone,” he said.

Whitesides said today was supposed to be the first day of school for his child, who is a student in the Salt Lake City School District. But the power outages made online learning impossible, ultimately leading to the district canceling classes altogether until at least Thursday. Several other districts and college campuses cancelled classes as well.

On the roads, Utah Highway Patrol restricted semi-trucks from traveling through Box Elder, Weber, and Davis counties after a number of them blew over from the strong winds. Drivers were asked to either hunker down until the storm passes or take a detour.

Rocky Mountain Power estimated approximately 175,000 homes were without power at the peak of the aftermath. Neighboring states Idaho and Wyoming were also experiencing outages. A spokesperson said crews were doing their best to get power restored as soon as possible.

RELATED: 175,000 people without power in northern Utah

City officials issued a statement asking neighbors to refrain from cleaning up and stay inside as much as possible until after the storm is over. Intermountain Healthcare reported that at least one person had died from injuries sustained from the wind storm. At least 12 more people were treated for minor injuries.

A spokesperson with the Utah Division of Emergency Management said that power outages in some areas could last days. In the meantime, residents should prepare by stocking up on food, water, batteries, and supplies.

Strong wind gusts are expected through Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. If you haven’t already, crews recommend securing loose items on your property by either putting them away or tying them down. Stay away from all downed power lines and trees, assuming they are live.

Salt Lake County designated four locations Tuesday evening as warming centers for unsheltered residents, displaced community members, and those who may suffer from cold temperatures due to power outages. The centers opened at 6 p.m. and will close Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.

RELATED: Warming centers available due to windstorm

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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