Family In Utah County Dealing With After Effects Of Massive Flooding
BIRDSEYE, Utah – You kind of get to know a place after a while.
Especially when you decide to make it your home.
“Yeah, I’ve been coming up here since I was three years old,” said Randy Butler, while looking at the trees and mountains along Bennie Creek Road in Utah County.
However, even though he built his home along the road, he says he barely recognizes the land after the flood came through this part of Utah County.
“It’s totally different,” said Butler. “The fire changed it dramatically. But then this has taken it one step further.”
Last Friday, during a heavy rainstorm on that wildfire burn scar, a flood of water with root-ripping force came down the mountain.
It brought enough debris with it to cover memories of what it looked like before.
“You can see the water marks up on the trees. It’s devastating,” said Butler.
That flood also damaged their property.
“We lost four fences, all of our boundary fences and two in between,” said Donna Butler, who is Randy’s wife. “Our ponds are full of muck and logs and rocks. We lost our culinary water and our whole tank.”
The Butlers also lost a lot of grazing land for themselves, other family members, and friends they lease land to.
Mud covers a lot of the land where there was grass just a few days ago.
They also lost a handful of cows from the flood, as well as diversion dams to irrigate their land.
“And because they’re gone, we’re unable to irrigate, so all of our pastures will dry up now. We’ll have to repair those and hopefully we can get it back going next year,” said Randy Butler. “That’s going to be tens of thousands of dollars to replace those.”
The road behind their home, Bennie Creek Road, is also now full of rocks and trees that were brought down the mountain with the water.
“No, there’s nothing we can do about that. You know? It’s just we got a lot of rocks where we used to have pastures,” said Randy Butler.
The Butlers say they are amazed at what the flood did, but they’re also disappointed on why they believe it happened.
“We’re all tired of paying for it. For the mistake of someone else,” said Donna Butler. “And we have to pay the bill.”
Many in the area believe the lightning-caused Pole Creek Fire could’ve been extinguished quick when it began burning last September.
Instead, the Forest Service allowed it to burn in order to reduce the amount of dead wood and heavy brush in the forest.
The plan was to manage the fire.
However, heavy winds pushed the fire out of control, creating the burn scar, that allowed the flooding.
“If the shoe was on the other foot and I created this much damage on the forest, I would be held liable,” said Randy Butler. “And the forest (service) has created all of this, I believe they should have some liability.”
For now, the Butlers are fixing the damage and paying out of their own pockets for repairs.
“It’ll take us a year or so to get our things back in order, I would imagine. And that’s if it doesn’t rain again,” said Randy Butler with a laugh.
It’s something they will now worry about every time it rains.
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