Community comes together in flood’s aftermath

Volunteers at a home on Vineyard Drive, Santa Clara, Sept. 12, 2012 | Mori Kessler, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – A day after heavy rains caused a century-old dike to break and flood a portion of Santa Clara, a community has come to together to aid in clean-up efforts.

“As soon as the flood hit, we came down to help,” said Scott Moffitt, a Santa Clara resident and clean-up volunteer. “I’ve pretty much been here the whole time.”

Andrea Schmutz, whose home Moffitt and other volunteers were tending to, was grateful for the help. “I want to thank them,” she said. “I don’t even know who most of them are.”

Schmutz’s home was one of 31 homes in the area of Vineyard Drive that were flooded Tuesday afternoon.  Twelve businesses, primarily those near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Canyon View Drive, were also flooded.  An official estimate on the cost of damages has yet to be released.

Youth dismissed from school for the day to help with the clean up, Santa Clara, Sept. 12, 2012 | Mori Kessler, St. George News

For much of Wednesday morning and afternoon, a majority of the volunteers have been teenagers. Washington County School District allowed several hundred students to be dismissed from school – with parent permission of course – so they could aid in volunteer efforts.

“They’ve been tremendous,” said Larry Jones, another homeowner whose basement flooded “clear to the ceiling.”

Larry Jones and his wife, Ellen Jones, came home when the flood started to approach their property. Larry Jones said he tried to keep water from a first wave of the flood from filling the basement window wells, but when a second wave hit, it was no use.

“The water broke all three basement windows,” Ellen Jones said.

Several youthful volunteers also swarmed about the Jones home, clearing out the basement and lending a hand where possible.

“It’s been wonderful,” Ellen Jones said.

Not all of the volunteers involved were shoveling mud or clearing out debris. Some Santa Clara residents, like Jen Cloward, turned their front yards into volunteer rest stations. A set of tables and chairs were arranged under the shade of large trees, with pizza and lemonade offered  to famished volunteers.

Cloward, whose home is on Vineyard Drive, yet was untouched by the flood, was unable to do more physical work because of a bad knee, she said, so she offered whatever aid she could in other ways.

Neighbors were also offering to do laundry and donate temporary garage space as a place where important family documents would be set up to dry out

“Every little bit we can do helps,” Cloward said.

At 6 p.m., Cloward and her neighbors will be hosting a dinner for the volunteers in the area.

Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg expressed his gratitude for the constancy of the volunteers, “There have been 600 volunteers on the ground at any given time.”

Along with the volunteer effort, Rosenberg said additional relief was being worked out on the state and federal level. Much of his afternoon would be spent in meetings with state and federal officials over sizing up the estimated damages of the flood and getting funds to help offset that cost, he said.

As for the ruptured dike, he said it was built in 1911 and the “town had grown around it.” It was inspected on an annual basis, as well as tested multiple times a year. Still, the heavy rains Tuesday morning near-filled the retention pond to overflowing – that was when a surge of water from Ivins surged into the pond and blew out the dike.

A donation account, “Santa Clara Flood Relief 2012,” has been set up with the State Bank of Southern Utah for the victims of the flood. Locally, State Bank of Southern Utah has locations in Santa Clara, St. George and Hurricane.

The Jones home, Santa Clara, Sept. 12, 2012 | Mori Kessler, St. George News
Volunteers in Andrea Schmutz’s backyard, Santa Clara, Sept. 12, 2012 | Mori Kessler, St. George News
Carpet, flooring, and other materials ruined by the flood, Santa Clara, Sept. 12, 2012 | Mori Kessler, St. George News


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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  • Murat September 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

    If I were one of those people I’d be preparing to sue that peasant city for all it’s worth.

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