Community Driven Out By Wildfire Prepares For New Threat
WOODLAND HILLS, Utah – Less than two weeks ago, residents of Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills were worried about a wildfire approaching their homes. Now, with heavy rain in the forecast, their big fear is flooding and mudslides.
From first light Sunday morning, until well after the sun went down Sunday night, droves of volunteers at the Woodland Hills fire station filled sandbags to protect homes.
Just up the mountainside, an ugly burn scar, left by the Bald Mountain Fire, was clearly visible. The Bald Mountain Fire and the nearby Pole Creek Fire burned more than 100,000 acres combined. That burn scar puts Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills at risk for flooding.
While the Woodland Hills community has already been through one crisis, they’re not going to let another one get them down.
Mike Morris and his family of 10 were evacuated for the fire, just like everyone else in town.
“My house is two blocks away from the mountain. I’m pretty close. Yeah, I was worried,” said Morris. “When we left I told the kids ‘alright say goodbye. This is it.’”
On Sunday, he was at the fire station with his boys shoveling, tying and hauling sandbags. Organizers say they filled close to 15,000 bags.
“Been kind of a trip. Burned down your mountain, now you’re worried about flooding and then we’re going to worry about avalanches later,” said Morris.
His home is one of about 400 in Woodland Hills and volunteers plan to make sure every single one of them is protected from potential flooding and mudslides. There were an estimated two thousand people Sunday, pitching in to save homes.
“We have volunteers from all over the state that don’t live here so we’re grateful they’ve come to our community to help,” said Monica Bambrough, another Woodland Hills resident.
For the people who live in Woodland Hills, nervous may be the primary emotion, but grateful, is at least a close second.
“This community connects. They get together, they work together,” said Morris. “I’ve never been in a community that’s this connected.”
“There’s nothing better in crisis than to find absolute beauty,” said Bambrough.
Emergency officials say they can’t predict with certainty what areas will be impacted, but they want everyone to be prepared just in case. After this weekend’s efforts, the residents of Woodland Hills are as prepared as they can be.
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