Utah towns mop up after huge thunderstorm causes floods, mudslides


Residents were cleaning up Sunday after a mammoth thunderstorm in north-central Utah caused widespread flooding, mudslides and brief evacuations.

The storm Saturday caused a two-hour delay in the football game in Provo between Brigham Young University and the University of Texas, forcing fans to huddle in their cars and other sheltered areas to avoid lightning.

About 100 people were evacuated briefly Saturday in Alpine City, a town of about 10,000 people roughly halfway between Provo and Salt Lake City where the National Weather Service said three-quarters of an inch of rain fell in just 15 minutes. The storm caused mudslides in the town and in the American Fork Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains.

"It was like a black monster of lava — it just came," Vickie Reay of Alpine City told NBC station KSL of Salt Lake City, describing the water, mud and debris that spilled over the wall in front of her home and into her yard. "It was 100 feet wide, and it just got bigger and bigger and just picked up more momentum." 

Fire officials said about 12 homes in Alpine were flooded.

"When I came up here about 6 o'clock or 6:30, the water was running down the street about a foot and a half deep, so it's probably the worst I've ever seen," Battalion Chief Joseph McRae of the regional fire district told KSL.

Rick Moore, mayor of Payson, a suburb of Provo, said the city's drainage system was overrun.

"The debris and everything else has come down and plugged off a lot of the storm drains. That funneled more water down this way," Moore told KSL. "So when you stop the water coming one place, it makes it worse at another place."

The weahter for Sunday was less threatening, with cooler temperatures and a few thunderstorms. Flash flood watches remained in effect through Sunday evening in central and southern parts of the state.

Any extra rain will complicate cleanup efforts, said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who joined the bucket brigade and tweeted about it:

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