Homes flood, power goes out as ‘significant’ rainfall hits Washington City

WASHINGTON CITY – For the second time in two days, rainstorms have left streets and homes flooded in Washington County. The flooding hit downtown Washington City Friday night.

A storm cell hit Washington City around 9:10 p.m. and dropped a “significant” amount of rain that came down very fast, Washington City Manager Roger Carter said.

Flooding in the area of Main Street and 200 North in Washington City following heavy monsoonal rainfall, Washington City, Utah, July 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The rain came down in an area northeast of Washington City, beyond Interstate 15’s Exit 13, Carter said, and caused a flash flood to shoot toward and down Buena Vista Boulevard until it was channeled south down Main Street and toward Telegraph Street.

The flooding hit a number of homes on Main Street just south of the I-15 underpass and also rounded the corner onto 400 North where additional homes were flooded.

“It got inside the house. The whole kitchen and living room area has a bunch of mud in there that’s seeped through,” Josh Ayala, a resident whose home is on Main Street, said. “We’ve got a good 4 inches of mud all throughout the carport. It destroyed our whole front yard.”

Ayala said his family had just finished fixing up the home and now has to start over.

“I just hope the city can help us out with this,” he said, “because this is pretty bad.”

The main torrent of water continued down Main Street where it slammed into a power box on a street corner and knocked it off its foundation.

Washington City Power reported over Facebook that power to parts of the Green Springs and Brio areas was knocked out due to the flooding. Power was eventually restored to all impacted areas around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

The water continued on and crossed a part of Telegraph Street, though Carter said the city hadn’t received any reports of flooding on the south side of Telegraph Street at the time.

Flooding in the area of Main Street and 400 North in Washington City following heavy monsoonal rainfall, Washington City, Utah, July 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The flood waters did reach into the parking lot of the U.S. Post Office at 25 W. Telegraph St. but did not appear to go much farther than that.

As of 11:10 p.m. Friday, when St. George News spoke to Carter, city officials were aware of at least five homes along Main Street and on 400 North that had flooded. Those residents received assistance from the Washington City Fire Department in cleanup efforts. Personnel from the Hurricane Valley Fire District were on scene as well to assist.

No injuries have been reported in connection to the flooding.

For Washington City firefighters, city street crews and others, Carter said, it is the second night they’ve engaged in post-flood cleanup efforts.

Thursday night, during the storm that flooded Dammeron Valley, the Coral Canyon area of Washington City was also impacted, particularly along Coral Canyon Boulevard. Flooding in that area took out the Coral Canyon sewer lift station and also spilled rocks and debris along the roadway.

Read more: Thunder cell moves through Dammeron Valley ‘with a vengeance’; 200 homes affected, volunteers needed

Between the Coral Canyon flooding and Main Street flooding within the last 48 hours, Carter said, “the crews are working as best as they can.”

Downtown Washington City and parts of Coral Canyon have been hit by flooding before in 2013 and 2014. At the time some city residents pointed the finger at the city for indirectly creating the flooding due to negligence or allowing development in areas that destroyed the natural drainage that had kept water from flowing into their homes.

In response to these incidents, the city built a series of debris basins and retention basins along Buena Vista Boulevard to help mitigate the flood waters as much as possible. Unfortunately the amount and speed of the water that hit the system Friday was too much for it, Carter said.

“It came down very rapidly and even though we have debris basins and retention basins that line Buena Vista, it just hit too rapidly to the point it overwhelmed the system,” he said. “It was a significant rainstorm and we didn’t build a system for this level of rain.”

Inside Luann Kahus’ home following the night’s flooding on Main Street, Washington City, Utah, July 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

For Main Street resident Luann Kahus, Friday night marked the fourth flood she’s experienced in that location.

“When I moved into this house the first thing I did was go to the city and the neighbors and asked if it ever flooded, and I was told ‘never,’” Kahus said, adding that she also believes development along Buena Vista Boulevard in recent years has created a flood path right to and through her front door.

Kahus spoke to St. George News on the sidewalk in front of her driveway that was covered in about 3 inches of mud. Inside her home, about an inch of water covered the floor throughout the residence.

“Thank heavens for this town and my neighbors, because everybody’s pitched in and helped every time,” she said.

Standing by Kahus were neighbors who offered to let her stay at their home for the evening while others offered to help clean up the water and the mud.

Kahus’ tone was less positive toward Washington City officials who, she said, call such flooding incidents “acts of God” while she believes they are man-made.

“We do our best to prepare,” Carter said, adding once more that the system that had been built to help mitigate flooding was “overwhelmed.”

City residents with concerns and worries about the flooding and with requests for aid are encouraged to contact the city through the Washington City Police dispatch line, telephone 435-634-5730, Carter said.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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