Utah Flash Flood: 16 Killed In Massive Flooding, Some Remain Missing
A flash flood in Utah, described as a “wall of water,” led to the deaths of twelve people Tuesday after members of two families traveling in two cars were swept away in the incident. A 13th person was reported missing. The search was being carried out near the town of Hiladale.
“This hit with a vengeance we haven’t seen for some time,” Kevin Barlow, the assistant fire chief in Hildale, Utah, said.
In another incident, four people were killed in the nearby Zion National Park, and three that remain missing, as reported by ABC News. They were in their cars that they had stopped at a point where waters from Maxwell Canyon cross Central Street. An overwhelming flood swept them away, according to the authorities in Colorado City, Arizona. The body of a 10-year-old was discovered six miles downstream from the incident.
“I join with other Utahns in mourning today the lives lost in two tragic incidents at Zion National Park and Hildale,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert said. “Jeanette and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones.”
Canyons just north of Hildale and Arizona experienced torrential rainfall, causing flooding and sending massive waves of water through the streets. The flooding also impeded search efforts, but the Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management said that it will resume in the morning.
Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow said, “Unbeknownst to [the victims], a flash flood had developed up in the canyon and it came rushing down, and it actually came around behind the vehicles and engulfed the vehicles. I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve never seen anything like this.
Joseph Jessop, whose family members were swept away in the flooding, said, “My family and my friend’s family were swept away in this flash flood. We express our sincere gratitude for the kindness and assistance in this inexpressible time of sorrow.”
According to NBC News, Jessop’s family, which was part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Texas in 2008 that was raided by the government, had lost another home previously because of religious persecution.
“We survived the FLDS raid in Texas in 2008, have been forced to find a home and have our appeals for redress unanswered,” Jessop said. “But now in an instant our families are gone. We know God is guiding in all things, and trust in him to heal our wounded hearts at this time.”
Washington County Emergency Services Public Information Officer, Pete Kuhlmann, said there were also reports of damaged homes and power outages.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox assured the residents that everything in their capacity is being done. He said the flooding was “one of the worst weather related disasters in the history of the state of Utah.”
“We just want Hildale to know that we love you, that we’re thinking about you, and that we’re here to serve you,” Cox said. “I hope this will bring the state and these communities closer together as we work together to bring to an end this very difficult time.”