REMEMBERING THE FLOOD OF 1999
To view a slide show about the flood click here.
To watch ariel footage of the flood click here.
Mayor's Corner July 2009
Marking an important event
This month marks ten years since one of the worse events and one of the best experiences in the history of Riverdale City. Ten years ago, on July 11, 1999, the Weber-Davis Canal breached sending water, mud, and debris into 78 homes, changing many lives forever. It seemed the "Riverdale Flood," played no favorites and was everywhere very quickly.
That Sunday afternoon many watched in horror and amazement as the canal water carved a canyon in the hillside below the break. The muddy water covered the Pinebrook subdivision filling yards and basements with thick mud. The water then spread through the subdivision below until coming to rest in Golden Spike Park, turning it into a muddy reservoir.
Neighbors, friends, family and strangers soon became workmates in the battle to save lives and property. The area of the breach was directly above Carl Cook's property, the LDS Stake President serving at that time. He was an eyewitness and the first victim of the flood. He also became a great partner to the City Administration in the rescue and restoration efforts.
A magnificent team effort I hope never has to be equaled
The Mayor at that time, Ben Jones, headed up the city team with City Council members, office staff, public works and emergency services working day and night for over two weeks. The city worked side by side with the LDS Church, Red Cross, Swanson Family Foundation, local businesses and other organizations to assure that the affected residents and volunteers received the help and support they needed. Carl Cook headed up the LDS efforts with food, water and supply distribution, along with countless volunteer crews. Many of the crews were assigned to various homes until cleanup and restoration was complete and the home owner's lives were "back to normal." The people affected by the flood, either by being a victim or by being a volunteer will never be the same again.
No one would wish for a Disaster
While everyone would say they wish we could have avoided the canal break, most would admit they learned many valuable lessons from the experience. As a City Council member, I spent about 16 hours a day for 11 days helping and being amazed by the fantastic strength, courage, resourcefulness, love, kindness, cooperation and willingness to pull together exhibited by tens of thousands of people. The people of Riverdale, Weber County, all of Utah and many neighboring states were involved in the tremendous cleanup effort. I, for one, still look back ten years later with fond memories of the effort given by so many to help those that had been dealt such a devastating blow.
There are so many amazing facts as you think back, including no deaths, or even any serious injuries. All residents were able to return to their homes within a week. When FEMA arrived on Friday they couldn't believe it was a serious disaster because so much cleanup work had been completed and ultimately denied our request for federal assistance. I, for one, am grateful to have been an eyewitness to the greatness of our City and the overwhelming outpouring of compassion towards our residents. As we reflect upon that summer, it may truly be one of our finest times.
Thanks for all you do to make our City Great.
Riverdale City Newsletter Article August 1999
RIVERDALE FLOOD OF 1999
On July 11, 1999, the largest disaster in Riverdale's history occurred. At approximately 12:08 p.m. a section of the Davis-Weber Canal gave way above the Pinebrook subdivision. The break in the canal sent thousands upon thousands of gallons of water and mud down onto the homes below.
Riverdale City Public Safety reacted quickly to the flood scene securing the area to protect residents from harm. Miraculously there were no deaths or serious injuries associated with the flood.
The water feeding the canal was quickly shut off, but water already in the canal continued to flow for approximately four hours after the break occurred. When the water and mud stopped flowing, the scene was grim. Over 140 properties received damage from the water and mud. Many homes had basements filled with mud and water, while many others who once had beautiful yards now had only mud surrounding their homes. Golden Spike Park became the final resting place for much of the water and mud. The green park had now become a muddy reservoir. Once the damage was done and people were safe, cleanup efforts began immediately.
The City of Riverdale responded with every resource possible to assist residents in the wake of this disaster.
City officials quickly responded to the disaster area. Public Works crews were immediately called in and every piece of city equipment that could be utilized was brought to the scene with crews working into the night. The Riverdale City Community Center was opened to the Red Cross for their relief efforts.
Police from Riverdale and other agencies secured the area day and night to protect residents' belongings. The city brought in dumpsters and paid the dumping fees for the thousands of pounds of refuse.
The city worked side by side with the Red Cross, LDS Church, Swanson Family Foundation, and ARES (Amateur radio operators) to assure that the affected residents and volunteers received the help and support they needed.
During the weeks that followed the disaster, the response of Riverdale residents, surrounding communities, and local businesses was nothing short of amazing. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers came to help dig mud and restore homes and yards. Hundreds of businesses donated needed materials and money to help. It was a remarkable outpouring of help that left many simply speechless.
As a result of the tremendous efforts, today there is little sign of the mud that once covered the flooded neighborhoods. Mud covered lawns have been uncovered and replanted. Homes have been cleaned and are being restored. The only lingering sign is the newly formed canyon where the break occurred and the mounds of dirt beneath it.
The city would like to give its thanks and gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who helped with the massive cleanup and to all those individuals and businesses who donated many items and money to assist with the cleanup efforts. Our community and those around us really came through in a difficult time. This city has never seen such an outpouring of giving and caring. Thank you all for your involvement.