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The only people living in Thistle save horse from drowning in flood

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jul 27, 2019

THISTLE, Utah — One of the towns blocked off by Friday night's flooding of U.S. 89 includes Thistle, known for a giant landslide in the 1980s that destroyed almost every home and turned the city into a "ghost town."

Today, there is only one family living in Thistle: a young couple and their horse, living in a newly built home off U.S. 89.

Phillip and Hillary Miller didn't live in Thistle during the first mudslide, but Friday night's flooding gave them a reminder of why they are the only people who now live in the deserted town.

Three mudslides on Friday caused U.S. 89 to close between 306 and 311, between Thistle and Birdseye. The area had already been affected by burn scars due to last year's Pole Creek Fire.

The flooding, which reached levels of six to seven feet according to UDOT, was so bad that Phillip couldn't get back to his front door without climbing a large hill up and around his property.

"I was not very happy," Hillary laughed. "I didn't know where he was, if he was safe, or what was going on!"

The couple's horse, named "Goober," may have also narrowly escaped tragedy when Hillary decided to move the horse into the home's garage, about 30 minutes before the floodwaters picked up and destroyed the horse's pen.

"He would have died," she said. "Goober was standing in two feet of water, which was not good for his (foot) injury."

"He'd have gotten out and drowned," Phillip agreed. "I mean, (the water) was flowing pretty good."

Goober is now staying with a veterinarian to have injuries treated and kept dry.

The couple said they are thankful there wasn't any damage to their home, but they still have a lot of cleaning up to do. They're familiar with the process, after living through previous floods and fires.

"Grass was just starting to sprout," Phillip said. "We just planted it last week!"

Still, the couple said situations like this are not stopping them from staying in Thistle, keeping the city's population at two people.