MOAB, Utah — Torrential downpours turned parts of Moab into a raging river Saturday as floods caused officials to warn people to stay away.
The National Weather Service reported up to 1 to 2 inches of rain fell in Moab on Saturday night.
Video shared with FOX 13 News by Julianne Waters and Merritt Eaton showed water flowing down Main Street through the center of town and inside at least one local business.
“Literally we were in the restaurant, I had to take my shoes off,” said one man in a video. “Look at this. Flooded. Moab, Utah, y’all.”
Mayor Joette Langianese said the damages will cost the city millions of dollars. She said Mill Creek was flowing a cubic foot per second faster than the Colorado River.
“It was unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said the mayor.
Langianese said downtown was hit the hardest. Dewey’s Restaurant and Bar filled up with minutes.
“It’s actually amazing that water could do all this so quickly,” said Scott Griffiths, an employee at Dewey’s.
Griffiths and other servers acted swiftly to get customers to safety.
“It came in every entrance that it could. It was coming in so quickly we couldn’t even shut the door” he said.
Restaurant flooded in video below (Courtesy: Scott Griffiths)
At Up the Creek Campground, its owners rushed to save their thirty campers in time.
“The girls told me within twenty seconds it went from their ankle to their waist,” said Ariel Atkins. “They are pretty sure that he saved their lives.”
Atkins said this is the third time this summer they’ve seen record-breaking water levels. She said their campground was even evacuated and flooded just days before Saturday’s flooding.
“I’m not sure it’s safe to put people there. Maybe this is a 100-year flood or maybe this is going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “This is our only business. I’m not sure there will ever be an Up the Creek Campground again.”
A GoFundMe campaign was created to help the campground.
Langianese said the city is already looking to create a flood control plan to be better prepared.
“Times have changed and so we need to be prepared a little better to mitigate flood control,” she said.
The flooding caused some water line breaks, which left residents without water. Moab City wrote in an announcement that water in most areas is expected to be restored by Sunday evening, but the Secret Cove neighborhood near 400 East may not be.
The city said the Spanish Trail Arena at 3641 South U.S. 191 is open and available to be used as a shelter for any residents who feel unsafe.
The city is also providing water to those without access. Free showers are available at the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center at 374 N. Park Avenue. A water truck is stationed at Grand County High School, where residents can bring bottles or other containers to fill up.
The city advised residents whose homes have been flooded to dry out materials as quickly as possible to avoid mold. If concerned about mold, they can contact the Southeast Utah Health Department at 435-259-5602. Residents with septic sewer systems can also contact the department if their systems were affected by the flood.
Moab City and Grand County have issued emergency declarations, which officials said could make funding available for residents whose homes or businesses have been damaged. Those with damage are advised to contact either the Moab City Building Office or the Grand County Building Department. It's advised to take photographs and document any and all damage for insurance purposes. The city asks those impacted to email the information about flood damage to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When cleaning up tree branches or other forms of large debris, the city asks residents and businesses to place them on the curb for city or county crews to remove throughout the week. However, they ask that the debris not be placed in the road to avoid clogging storm drains. The Moab Landfill will accept storm debris during normal business hours.
Residents can also get sandbags at the Moab City Public Works Yard on Kane Creek or at the Grand County Roads Department. They're asked to bring a shovel as they will need to fill their own bags.
"Throughout the day we have witnessed the can-do spirit of our community as people have pitched in to help those businesses and residents most affected by the storm clean up their properties," the city wrote in a press release. "These efforts remind us why we live here, and the City and County would like to thank everyone in the community for their assistance to others and their patience while the cleanup work continues."