This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Thunderstorms rolled across Tooele and Salt Lake counties Monday, turning streets into shallow rivers, destroying yards, cutting power to thousands of residents and flooding hundreds of basements.
The brunt of the storms hit neighborhoods in Tooele and Draper, missing Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood creeks and the American Fork River, where heavy precipitation would have caused significantly more damage.
But the inclement weather - which by late afternoon gave way to sunny skies - altered innumerable Memorial Day holiday plans, driving people out of the canyons and parks.
In Tooele, more than 3 inches of rain fell between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning.
"We've had some very significant rainfall," said NWS hydrologist Brian McInerney.
Floodwaters filled "several hundred" basements, said Tooele Mayor Charlie Roberts.
The flooding damaged public buildings, too. Water seeped into Tooele City Hall, and minor flooding was reported in the Tooele County Jail and emergency operations center.
Tooele High School, Tooele Junior High School and Middle Canyon Elementary also sustained water damage. Kindergarten classes at Middle Canyon have been canceled for today.
A large hailstorm hit the area about 6:30 a.m., followed by rain that lasted until 1:30 p.m., said Roberts.
The storm was "too much water in too short of a time," he said.
Already running with water diverted from a clogged reservoir outlet, 700 South became a raging river, said Tooele County spokesman Wade Mathews. In some places, the water measured about 2 feet deep.
"It was unsafe this morning," Mathews said. "The speed and strength of the water could knock somebody over."
Firefighters and city employees along with several hundred volunteers filled thousands of sandbags, many of which were placed along 700 South to contain the overflow from Settlement Canyon Reservoir.
Ditching his Memorial Day plans, Stockton resident Jaren Johnson headed for Tooele to help those who live along 700 South stay dry. He donned an orange vest and directed traffic while standing in calf-deep water. The sunny afternoon, he said, could mean higher temperatures and more snow melting.
Elsewhere in Tooele County:
l About 20 basements were flooded in the town of Erda.
l Lightning struck a substation about 7:30 a.m., cutting power for more than six hours to about 3,000 residents of Stansbury Park, said Utah Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler.
Torrential rain also pounded Draper, causing isolated flooding the likes of which had not been seen there since 1983. About an inch of water came down in "a heavy short burst," said Mike Conger of the NWS.
At the Chung home on Mountain Crest Circle, shattering glass ripped Jonathan Dong out of his slumber sometime after 7 a.m. Monday. Before he had even opened his eyes, a river of water bore down on his bed.
Dong heard his uncle, Bo Chung, yelling for help. He rushed into the next room of the finished basement and found his two cousins there, watching the deluge rapidly rise to their knees.
"We tried to stop the water, but it came too fast," Dong said.
The torrents forced the temporary evacuation of two other homes on Mountain Crest Circle.
Unified Fire Authority Capt. Mike Burrows estimated the Chungs sustained about $20,000 in water damage, though Bo Chung put the figure closer to $70,000.
A house next door sustained $2,000 to $3,000 damage, Burrows said.
"I realize this is a freak of nature," Chung said, "but neglect on the city's part left the storm drains clogged and the water poured into my yard."
The weeping skies saturated at least three retaining ponds and canals, forcing the ponds and storm drains to overflow in neighborhoods near 13000 South and 1800 East.
Neighbors, including 17-year-old Daniel Reese and 19-year-old Jennifer Reese, attempted to stanch the deluge consuming the Chungs' yard by building makeshift berms of dirt, sand, wood and concrete blocks. None of it worked. The basement's window wells filled and the pressure burst the panes. Firefighters said the water's depth ultimately reached almost 5 feet.
Not far from the Chungs' house, firefighters, police and residents worked to drain a small lake that had formed near the intersection of 13200 South and 1700 East. A landscaping wall held back approximately 150,000 gallons of water - roughly the equivalent of eight backyard swimming pools - that had collected there during the rainfall, Burrows said.
"If this broke, it would be the equivalent of a dam bursting," Burrows said.
By 1:30, his colleagues had drained nearly all the water, and neighbors and the Salt Lake County Fire Department had heaped sandbags along the road next to cement barricades. Safety officials hoped those steps would be enough to handle any additional flooding.
On Traverse Ridge Road, debris clogged storm drains, causing them to overflow into subdivisions. Runoff also eroded soil from the construction site of an LDS Church ward house.
Evidence of the morning's downpour lay in Draper's streets: newly formed stream beds under fences, mud-covered streets and back yards that now looked like marshes.
For the next few days, rain showers are forecast for the mountains, with temperatures in the valleys in the lower 70s, according to the weather service. Rain could return to Wasatch Front valleys by Thursday.