Garland residents contend with damaged basements, lost mementos due to flooding

Saturday , February 25, 2017 - 5:30 AM

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

GARLAND — Some of their son’s toys are in the trash heap, along with a water-logged mattress, a table, family pictures and much, much more, all of it damaged by flooding.

“It’s devastating,” said Toni Scott, contemplating the trash bin in their driveway, brimming with the throwaways.

Trevor Scott, her husband, said watching the procession of friends and others hauling the soggy items out of his basement was particularly hard. Losing family pictures was the worst.

“It is tough to deal with,” he said.

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Garland — beset by flooding caused by rapidly melting snow, like many other Box Elder County communities — seemed to be draining Friday. “We’re actually moving the water out of the city and it’s going to the river,” said Garland Emergency Manager Lanette Sorensen, at the center of efforts to deal with the situation.

Still, she wasn’t declaring victory.

The next few days are supposed to be “pretty cool,” which ought to help put a check on the melting. But next week’s weather forecast, she said, calls for “another big jump” in temperatures, which could lead to more rapid melting. Snowfall this winter has been unusually heavy, accounting for massive quantities of meltwater.

And even if the flooding subsides, plenty of damage has already been done.


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“It’s something that — what do you do?” said Justin Gawthrie, whose Garland home sustained damage due to flooding as well as a backed-up sewer. “Who do you blame, Mother Nature?”

His wife, Tawsha Guthrie, said she fights to remain upbeat, despite the destruction of a couch, bed, television, mementos and much more. “You laugh a lot. You laugh and cry and that’s about it. And sometimes you go, ‘What do we do next?’”

Sorenson suspects most homes in Garland, perhaps 85 to 90 percent of them, sustained some sort of water infiltration, though not necessarily to the level of the Guthries or Scotts. Tremonton has also been hit by flooding, similarly caused by the uptick last week in temperatures and rapid snow melt.

“Everyone has told us their sump pumps are going non-stop,” said Garland Police Chief Chad Soffe.

‘Stuff was floating’

Sorensen said the efforts in Garland resulted in the removal of 161,000 gallons of water from flooded areas on Thursday and 41,000 more gallons on Friday. The city deployed pumps in scattered locations, moving water to storm water drains that feed into the Malad River. Some pumps sat aside fields full of meltwater that had been flowing to housing developments.

Countless hoses unfurled from homes all around Garland aided in the effort, hauling water moved by sump pumps from basements onto city streets and the city’s storm water system.

“We’re on three pumps right now that have been going continuously since Sunday,” said Toni Scott.

Trevor Scott said the situation in Garland is unprecedented, at least in his memory. He remembers minor water infiltration at his home in 2004, but the sump pump easily handled the moisture. This week’s flooding is something different.

“It was like a river. Stuff was floating. Everything was floating,” said Toni Scott.

Josh Marble, a Garland City Council member and operator of a home restoration and cleaning business, said his phone has been ringing practically non-stop with requests for service.

In some homes, the damage hasn’t been so readily apparent — at least not at first glance. “You can’t see the water but you splash as you step on the carpet,” he said. Other homes he’s visited have had upwards of three inches of standing water.

At the Guthrie home, meltwater wasn’t the worst of it. Worse, perhaps, was the sewage that backed up into their basement, a problem that impacted a very small number of Garland homes, city officials say.

“This is toilet paper and all sorts of not-cool items,” Tawsha Guthrie said, pointing out the damage to the basement

At one point, sewage and meltwater spewed from a basement floor drain like a small fountain. “The smell was horrible,” said Justin Guthrie.

Because of the threat of disease caused by the sewage, the Guthries had a tough time recruiting help to pull water-logged items out of their basement, compounding the misery.

“I cried hysterically to my mother this morning,” Tawsha Guthrie said. “It’s just a matter of crying and keeping it together enough to get it done.”

As of Friday, the water had largely drained from the Guthrie and Scott basements, though sump pumps continued to chug away. Wet walls, insulation and more, though, still had to be dealt with.

Community support

Trevor Scott said the community support has been the sole blessing, perhaps, in the tough situation.

“The cool thing was watching the community come together,” he said.

Countless neighbors helped him haul things from his home’s basement, he said, and he banded together with others to help in other households. “I have tons of people who have supported me. It’s kind of hard to sit and feel sorry for myself when we just had water in the basement,” Trevor Scott said.

That doesn’t mean he’s stopped worrying. There’s still plenty of snow that has yet to melt.

“I’m hoping it stops,” said Trevor Scott. “But I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

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