Flash flood crashes into Willard homes, leaving muddy mess

Aug 3, 2023, 11:09 PM | Updated: 11:10 pm

WILLARD, Utah — Thursday afternoon rain storms led to flash flooding in Willard, sending a wall of mud across yards and into homes.

Neighbors were quick to jump in and try to clear what they could from the road, driveways, yards, and a basement.

Seth Neilson and others shoveled mud and soil off of his driveway. His next-door neighbor Mike Wetzel swept murky water out of Nielson’s garage.

Yardwork and housework weren’t on the to-do list for the day, but neither was a flash flood.

Nielson said his wife was looking out the window earlier in the afternoon, saying it was raining cats and dogs.

“Then she’s like, ‘Oh, I think our garage is going to flood out.'” he said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, right. Never does that.'”

Suddenly, they saw a wall of water coming over their terrace.

An intense rainstorm hit the hillside and mountains above town too fast to soak in the ground, quickly turning into a river of mud charging straight toward several homes, including Mike Wetzel’s house.

I just heard a rumbling. And next thing I know, there’s just a river of mud coming down the neighbor’s driveway,” Wetzel said. “And I just watched it come right straight across the street, over the curb, and right in the yard. Filled it full of about a foot of mud.”

Video Wetzel took shows the sudden raging river running straight toward his house. Luckily, it didn’t make it inside.

But it did destroy his entire yard and completely covered his driveway. He said he called the Willard city manager to give him an earful, because Wetzel said the city recently re-did the road above his house and took out a berm that was meant to channel floods away from his home.

Just up from him, the hardest hit house belonged to the Browns.

“I was scared,” Danielle Brown said. “I’ve never seen this. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

She was home alone when she heard a noise and watched the mud come down the mountain, across her yard and into her basement. She called her husband screaming.

Brown’s basement is damaged, and the yard she’s built up over 18 years was dismantled in minutes.

“There was nothing anybody could do,” she said. “It was just flowing so fast. I mean, if you would have walked in, it probably would have swept you right off your feet.”

She’s not sure what to do now, but she knows she has help all around her.

Thursday evening, a crowd of people were buried in feet of mud, trying to unclog a drain to let the water flow out of her basement patio area.

“I have wonderful neighbors,” she said, grateful.

The neighbors now have a new to-do list:  Be there for each other as they clean up after the storm.

“What you see here is happening all over this town right now,” Wetzel said, gesturing to everyone shoveling mud around him.

“I had people in my driveway helping me before I realized I even needed help,” Nielson said. “Pleasant surprises, after unpleasant surprises.”

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Flash flood crashes into Willard homes, leaving muddy mess