Man returns to Farmington neighborhood to reflect on devastating 1983 mudslide

Jun 1, 2023, 1:31 PM

FARMINGTON, Utah — Forty years to the date a massive mudslide filled his parents’ home with mud and water while destroying several other houses, a man returned to his old neighborhood to reflect.

“I had no idea there was even a creek up there,” Chuck Moulton said Wednesday as he stood next to his family’s former home. “I had no idea it could come down with that much power and force!”

The Rudd Creek mudslide on May 31, 1983, damaged dozens of homes.

Moulton said he still had vivid memories of that day, which started for him with breakfast over at his parents’ house in which he remembered hearing unusual noises coming from the mountains east of town.

“Up in the canyon, I could hear these popping, cracking sounds,” Moulton said. “It sounded like firecrackers to me.”

By afternoon, the source of the noises became obvious as mud flowed down the streets next to his parents’ house.

“It went in this window and in the garage, destroyed the garage door,” said Moulton as he pointed to the cream-colored, two-level brick structure. “The water line was clear up against the bottom of the porch there.”

Moulton said his family’s home ended up with 6 feet of water and mud in the basement.

The home across the street was buried to the rooftop in pictures Moulton shared.

He said six homes to the north where a retention basin now sits were completely destroyed.

“They decided that the only way to solve this potential problem in the future was to take any remaining homes down and put this catch basin in,” Moulton said.

Moulton said he was grateful that so far in a year of record snowfall and considerable spring runoff that the Wasatch Front had largely avoided 1983-level flooding and mudslide scenarios.

He said the event gave him a greater appreciation for how life can change instantly and ultimately what matters most.

“Homes can be rebuilt, property can be restored,” Moulton said. “It’s your family and your friends and your neighbors that are the things that are real important.”

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Man returns to Farmington neighborhood to reflect on devastating 1983 mudslide