City project saves homes from mudslides in Alpine

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-08 23:43:43-04

ALPINE, Utah –Disaster averted, for now. Mud came rushing down Box Elder Canyon in Alpine this weekend, threatening homes below. Thanks to the city's efforts, retention ponds kept the debris from destroying property.

Vickie Reay's house is the most vulnerable to mudslides in her neighborhood. It sits at the bottom of Box Elder Canyon, where there was a massive wildfire last summer. This past weekend, there was a massive mudslide that barely missed her home.

"This house would not be here, it would be full of mud right now," Reay said.

Thick mud packed a parking lot leading up to a hiking trail. Reay said from her view it looked like lava flowing down the mountainside.

Home video shot by Vickie's daughter shows the cleanup the day after the mudslide.

"There's the pipe that goes down to our house, and now we're getting rid of all the debris that happened in the fire,” Reay's daughter said in the video.

It's not hard to see the burn scar from the Quail fire, which scorched the mountainside last summer. The trees are still charred, and there hasn't been enough time for the vegetation to grow. With all the rain, a massive mudslide came rushing down, but thanks to a retention pond, the homes below were saved.

"What happens is you get a thunderstorm centered up top of the canyon, and it just produces a heavy quick down pour," said Alpine City Engineer Shane Sorensen.

He said the city anticipated the mudslides, and to prepare, they built debris basins, retention ponds, walls and a channel to avoid destruction to the subdivision below. The federally funded project, which cost $400,000, was finished just in time.

"It was just about a week ago that we finished this basin,” he said.

Reay said she is grateful the project was completed.

"It's not their house, it's my house,” she said. “They didn't have to do it, and so yeah I am blessed, blessed, blessed."

The city's efforts have paid off, but if the area is pounded by any more rain storms, Vickie knows her home and the others around it could be in trouble.

"One of the last things they said was, ‘Pray that we don't have rain today,’” she said.