PLAIN CITY -- The area where Weber County emergency officials placed six diesel-powered pumps to try to alleviate pressure in the swollen Weber River gave way Thursday and officials are scrambling to figure out what comes next.
The levee that separated the river and a small canal, often referred to as the "Little Weber," started to leak early Thursday morning, said Sheriff's Lt. Mark Lowther.
Heavy equipment was brought in to try to fix the hole, but before long, it grew bigger and workers had to leave the area.
Several of the six pumps, which were all in operation at the time, were washed down the canal, Lowther said.
But recovering the equipment is the least of the worries at the moment. By Thursday evening, water submerged at least 50 acres of farmland and pastures.
"We're worried about trying to get the river stopped," Lowther said.
On Wednesday, a cut was made in a road about half a mile away from the river near 5900 West and 400 North to try to accommodate the high waters.
The cut in the road was always part of the plan, Lowther said, but the uncontrolled rush of water from the Weber River was not.
Lowther said, as far as he knows, the reason for the levee break was the constant pressure on the banks, not because of a sudden rise in water levels.
According to the National Weather Service, the river at Plain City is at 27.9 feet, or about 4,855 cubic feet per second. Flood stage is 27 feet, or 4,531 cfs.
The river is expected to remain above flood stage at Plain City through the middle of the month.
Officials hope they will be able to go back to the levee site and try to patch the hole once again.
"We're hopeful, but not optimistic," Lowther said. "Once you get that water flowing, it's really hard to stop."
Officials talked with the Utah National Guard about dropping heavy sandbags from a Blackhawk helicopter to fill the dike, but once they lost daylight, officials decided to postpone repairs until 9 a.m. today.
Lowther said they are unsure if they will be able to get the heavy equipment back that far to the river because there is now standing water in the surrounding fields.
The dirt road where crews had spent about a week preparing for the installation of the pumps is now under water, so officials are not sure if it's even possible to gain access to fix the hole.
"We're not going to risk someone's life trying to do this," Lowther said.
Once the breach occurred, water began flowing uncontrollably through the small canal, flooding nearby fields.
Lowther said he has not heard of any homes flooding yet, but said the possibility is very real if the canal, which was already full of fast-moving water Thursday, exceeds its banks and begins flowing into fields and nearby homes.
Delores Devaul lost her garden and now she's worried for her home, located about half a mile north of where crews were cutting the road. Two days ago, her yards were dry.
The water crept up to her house from all four sides most of Thursday. By 6:30 p.m., it was within a few feet of her house.
"It's just a waiting game now. I'm just hoping for the best," she said. "If the water gets in, it would ruin everything."
Community and work crews from the jail had been helping her sandbag all day. The same goes for Gary Nielsen, who lives just above the cut in the road and in almost the direct path of where the canal is naturally moving.
"All this earth, it was all done today," he said, standing next to a 3-foot-tall ring of dirt that barricaded the back of his property from the rising water.
At least a dozen people were at his home Thursday, filling sandbags and surrounding property lines with them.
Nielsen questioned the wisdom of placing the six pumps on the levee since the vibration might have loosened the dirt.
Mike Caldwell, a spokesman for Weber County, said workers observed the pumps for more than 48 hours and the pumps were not disturbing the levee.
The canal will eventually dump into unincorporated areas about five to seven miles northwest of where the initial breach of the levee was made.
Lowther said other homeowners in the area have already placed sandbags, and some continued to sandbag Thursday in preparation for the uncontrolled water.
Officials also have made multiple cuts in roadways to try to accommodate the high waters. Areas to avoid include 6700 West at 900 North, 6400 West at 700 North, 5900 West at 400 North and 5500 West at 400 North.
The American Red Cross also responded Thursday, providing food to first responders and sandbaggers.