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Storms flood homes, knock out power

Long-awaited rain fills basements and causes outages

SHARE Storms flood homes, knock out power

The long, hot and dry summer is done.

But residents filling sandbags and digging out their flooded basements Thursday morning weren't all too pleased.

Buckets of rain poured down Wednesday, ending 90-plus days of mostly blistering temperatures with hardly a drop of moisture. The storm hit the Wasatch Front hard, leaving as much as 4 inches at Ben Lomond Peak, east of Ogden, and nearly 2 inches in Salt Lake City.

Several homes in Draper, Midvale, Bountiful, Herriman and Roy were flooded, leaving at least one family homeless overnight. Power was also out in several communities.

Some of the worst damage occurred in Roy, where police dispatchers say nearly two dozen homes were flooded. Many homes also had sewage coming up through their bathtubs and toilets. A police officer reported he could not get out of his car because the standing water in the street was above his door.

Roy officials were filling sandbags for residents Thursday morning at the Roy Public Works Shops, 5460 South and 2700 West. City manager Blake Whalen said of the flooding, "It's the worst I've seen in 13 years."

Despite the flooding, meteorologists at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service were giddy about the downpour.

"It's marvelous. This is a million-dollar rain; we needed it so bad," William J. Alder, head meteorologist, said. "We had 1.31 inches (at the Salt Lake airport) yesterday. It was the wettest Aug. 30 on record."

The storm first hit in northern Utah. Rain was falling hard and fast in Brigham City at 10:30 a.m. and spread to the Cache Valley before noon, before heading south to Salt Lake City in the late afternoon, Alder said.

Moisture had been hovering across the state for several days, after heavy rains hit Washington County early in the week. On Wednesday, windflow patterns coming out of the north helped focus that moisture near the Idaho-Utah border and got the rain flowing, Alder said.

The weather should continue to be wet Thursday and Friday but clear up for the Labor Day weekend, Alder said. Temperatures will likely range from the 70s in the northern part of the state to near 90 in Utah's Dixie.

Alder offers the following as an explanation of how much Wednesday's rain was needed: "From June until the 29th of August we had 1.29 inches of water. And then we had 1.31 inches in one day."

The weather service issued an urban and small stream advisory, a warning to highly populated areas that a lot of rain will pour and drainage may not be able to handle the water — which is exactly what happened.

"Storm drains are only made for so much capacity," said Ted Ketten, drainage supervisor for Sandy's public utilities department. Sandy received over a half-inch of rain. Ketten said he received about 35 complaints of flooded yards. There were three major basement floods and four minor ones.

"We pumped them out and did what we could to make the citizens happy tonight," Ketten said, who added that he saw as much as four feet of water in one basement.

Bill and Vicki Anderson live next to the Eaglewood Golf Course in North Salt Lake. The golf course's storm drain, which is directly behind their house, backed up and flooded their 1,800 square-foot basement with mud and water. Vicki Anderson said water from the storm drain shot five feet into the air, and most of it went into her home after breaking a basement window.

"It was coming in like a river," Vicki Anderson said. "I think I'm still in shock."

At least six Herriman homes in the Coppermine subdivision were reporting estimated damages of up to $200,000 Thursday morning, Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Bill Brass said. One home, 11886 S. Emma Mine Drive (4965 West) was condemned and had water about 8 feet deep in its basement.

The area used to be open fields and has historically been a natural drainage area for flooding. A 200-acre parcel of farm land there has been dry for so long that when it started raining so heavily yesterday, the water carved a path that went straight for the homes, firefighter Mike Burrows said.

One of the residents, who had a backhoe, carved a trench to divert the water, but the runoff from that effort caused minor flooding at two other homes.

In Draper, two businesses were damaged by flooding. Draper Bank and Mortgage, 12280 S. 900 East, suffered about $5,000 in damage. The Dale T. Smith & Sons Meat Packing Co., 12450 S. Pony Express Road (15 West) was reporting about $1,000 in damages.

The weather caused power problems for thousands of residents and businesses around the valley. Dave Eskelsen, spokesman for Utah Power, said large outages were reported Wednesday night in North Salt Lake, South Salt Lake, Taylorsville and Moab. A pole fire also caused a large outage from 1100 South to 2700 South and from 100 East to 800 East around 7 p.m. Power was restored a few hours later, Eskelsen said.

By Thursday morning some 40 Roy residents had reported flooding. Several intersections were still flooded, and the storm drain channel was near capacity if not over, Whalen said.

"We're just trying to keep up and hope we don't get pounded again," he said.

Residents were sandbagging their homes as it continued to rain on and off during the morning. Ed Kirgan, 3927 W. and 4750 South, said he woke up to find a 3-foot-wide river gushing through his backyard.

"This is the worst I've seen it," said Kirgan who has had water problems for all three years he's lived there.

Kirgan said his neighborhood is prone to flooding and he's tried to get the city to do something about it.

"We've been complaining and complaining about the way they have everything built. It drains right into this subdivision," said Kirgan.

Contributing: Derek Jensen and Laura Hancock.

E-MAIL: dobner@desnews.com; preavy@desnews.com