Former FLDS member saddened by fatal flash flooding in Hildale

Posted at 8:10 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-16 09:23:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It’s an enigmatic place that is experiencing the loss of 13 women and children to a flash flood.

They call it Short Creek and it is one of the most isolated communities in the U.S., by choice rather than geography.

Late in the 20th century, the community took on two formal names, Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale. It was a nod of the head to the political reality of the Utah-Arizona state line.

The population was at one time entirely composed of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In recent years, many community members have fled or have been exiled by current FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.

Will Ream left the community and his family when Jeffs’ commands became more than he was willing to follow.

“It is really, really hard. But you learn to live again,” Ream said Tuesday.

Ream said news of the flooding and video of his former community responding together made him think about his choice to leave.

“I did a serious retake of my life. I looked inward and thought these people are me. These are the people I grew up with. They're the children of the people I grew up with,” Ream said.

The painful reality of a complete separation forced Ream to view the tragedy from a distance.

“I went through my vindictive stage, but that's not what we're about. God didn't send us here to be vindictive,” Ream said.

Shannon Price directs the Diversity Foundation, an organization that helps people transition out of the FLDS church.

“Every incident like this means an opportunity to change,” Price said.

Price said her contacts in the communities say the disastrous flood is bridging the divide between those who have left and those who remain in the church.

If you are interested in helping, organizations with ties to the community include: