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Cleanup underway in Cedar City after flooding causes extensive damage

Posted at 8:28 AM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 14:05:27-04

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Cleanup is underway in Cedar City Tuesday morning, after flash floods Monday afternoon destroyed several parts of town-- leading the mayor to declare a State of Emergency.

Everyone in the basement apartments of University West Apartments lost everything they own, after the flood waters reached several feet high.

READ: State of Emergency declared after widespread flooding in Cedar City

One person said they were home when they noticed water coming through the door. As she went to grab belongings super quickly to get out, she said the water broke open the door, and knocked her over. She escaped in her pajamas with no shoes, and no other belongings.

Another person said people were crawling out the windows of the basement apartments to escape to safety.

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Rain brought intense flash floods all over town, including the apartment complex, areas of the Southern Utah University campus like the stadium, entire neighborhoods, business complexes and roads.

Homes in neighborhoods near Cross Hollow Road as well as the Crescent Hills area experienced extensive damage to basements, ruining everything inside.

The Walmart parking lot in Cedar City turned into a waist-high pond, leaving people to wade out to their cars with help from Walmart employees.

At University West Apartments, where tenants primarily include SUU students, community members quickly jumped in to help pump water and clear belongings from the basement units.

As they piled up furniture and clothing outside, it was clear most of it was not salvageable.

Cheryl Beeston said her daughter and son-in-law, Cheyenne and Kyle Brunson, weren't home when the flash floods hit. Kyle was at work up in Fillmore, and Cheyenne-- who is a nurse-- was also at work and couldn't leave to come home and see the damage.

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Their families drove into town to help out.

"We just jumped in our truck and rushed down here," Beeston recounted. "It's worse than I ever expected. They've been married-- it'll be five months tomorrow-- and they've lost everything."

READ: Impact of microbursts on Utah drought, water supply

Volunteers searched through apartment-- which still had water and mud at least waist-high-- and Beeston said they were pulling up and grabbing what they could.

There was a box floating on the water, she explained, and inside it was one of her daughter's most precious belonging.

"Even with all the devastation, one of the most tender mercies that happened today was that she was very hysterical about, was that there was a young man who was helping to pump out her apartment before she even got here-- and he found her wedding ring," Beeston said, holding up the wedding ring with tears in her eyes. "And so, we're so grateful for that. We're grateful for all the help that's here."

Late Monday night, dozens were helping clean up. Many more brought in food and water. Someone showed up and yelled, "We have tacos! Come get tacos!" A huge delivery of pizzas and McDonald's sat on a table for people to eat.

Cases of water and Gatorade were right next to that.

Tuesday morning, even more volunteers showed back up to continue the cleanup. Schmidt Construction sent an entire crew and heavy equipment to clean up the mud and gunk.

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"There's been so many people come up and say, 'What can we do? What can we do?' It's been amazing to see this whole community come together and just help everybody," Beeston said.

GALLERY: Rain causes flooding on Cedar City streets, in residences

The Red Cross has set up a shelter and donation supply point at the YSA Stake Center at 61 N 900 W in Cedar City. Sandbags are available at the County Road Shed on Kitty Hawk Drive.