Man thanks neighbors, strangers who helped save house from raging waters of Emigration Creek

Apr 14, 2023, 7:27 AM

EMIGRATION CANYON, Utah — A man thanked neighbors, volunteers and work crews for moving quickly to save his house from a backed-up creek as community leaders on Thursday continued to work tirelessly to combat a host of spring runoff-related issues that also included mudslides and avalanches.

Tim Erickson said on Tuesday the water started to back up near the culvert next to his house, flooding his yard and flowing over the driveway.

“It was incredible how quickly it happened,” Erickson said during an interview with KSL TV on Thursday. “If you can believe that (the water) was 2 feet or 3 or 4 feet above that culvert.”

Erickson thought his home was a goner.

“I’m not kidding you when I say I was saying bye to this house,” he said.

Tim Erickson stands near the banks of Emigration Creek on April 13, 2023. (Andrew Adams/KSL TV)

Erickson said neighbors and strangers began laying down sandbags as quickly as they could as work crews scrambled to unclog the culvert.

“We had to tear down the rock wall, tear down the fence, take out a tree or two to be able to get to the culvert to clean it,” said Emigration Canyon Metro Township Mayor Joe Smolka.

Smolka said sandbags that still stood Thursday next to the foundation of the house were placed there because the water had reached that level.

The mayor said it was only one of several problems the community has been dealing with amid melting snow and rising temperatures this week.

Among them were as many as 15 mudslides that had blocked roadways, snow that fell off a house that blocked part of a road and several small avalanches.

“It’s been pretty much nonstop for the last three days,” Smolka said.

Smolka said on Wednesday, Emigration Creek was running at 155 cubic feet per second in the canyon, which was higher than the 148 cubic feet per second measured in 1983.

He was cautiously eyeing the days and weeks ahead.

“I’m a little bit concerned if it warms up dramatically, quickly,” Smolka said. “I’m afraid we’ll get a lot more runoff. Right now, my hope is we’re in the 70s down in the valley and that will bring this snow down slow enough for us not to have a problem greater than we’ve had already.”

Erickson was just grateful his home survived with minimal flooding inside.

“We got a little seepage in from a sliding glass door in our bedroom — just about 6 inches — and it’s already dry,” he said.

He said he was grateful to everyone who pitched in at a critical time to help save his home.

It was inspiring and makes me want to, like, bawl,” Erickson said. “I just can’t sing the praises enough of these people, you know, of the people of this canyon.”

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Man thanks neighbors, strangers who helped save house from raging waters of Emigration Creek