Raging waters | ParkRecord.com

Raging waters

Nan Chalat Noaker, Record editor

As the flood waters along S.R. 32 in Oakley began to subside Tuesday morning, one question lingered: would they return on Wednesday?

By midmorning Tuesday, four homes in Oakley had been evacuated and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office had set up its mobile command unit by the town hall to help coordinate a large volunteer sandbagging effort. The Utah Highway Patrol was also on hand to shut down a segment of the highway where the water was nearly a foot deep.

Matt and Jenny Leavitt’s home near the river bridge in Oakley appeared to have borne the brunt of Tuesday’s flood. According to Jenny Leavitt, the whole house swayed as it came off the foundation. "Our floor boards in the living room drop two inches when you walk on them now."

The couple was up all night monitoring the water level which rose about five inches over the foundation. "We haven’t been to bed since Sunday," she said while watching volunteers build a barricade of sandbags around her yard. "It was so cold we were shaking."

Matt Leavitt joked that he had seen their front sidewalk floating toward Peoa. Humor, Jenny said, was helping them cope with assessing the damage to their couches, clothes, appliances and landscaping.

Matt Leavitt praised his neighbors and the community for their response as he bent to retrieve a pearl necklace that was being swept along by the flood waters. After examining it and a few other pieces of jewelry floating by, Jenny said that it wasn’t hers and surmised it may have come down from the cabins farther up the river.

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The Leavitts said they have flood insurance and would be staying with other family members for the time being.

Across the highway, Sue Woolstenhulme trudged though her silt- and mud-filled backyard where earlier this week she had planted a vegetable garden. The Weber River, normally a tranquil neighbor, had cut a new channel around the corner of her home. "Water is such a force, you just don’t realize it," she said.

At the Oakley Town Hall, more than 100 children and adults welcomed a new shipment of sandbags and went to work filling them. Members of the South Summit football team helped to transport them to the Oakley Polar King where a wall was being constructed to stem the flow which filled the parking lot.

Oakley Mayor Blake Frazier said he had never seen the Weber River come over its banks like it had this week. "It’s never been this bad, not even in ’83," he said, referring to the last major flood year.

By midmorning the sandbag-lined highway had reopened but residents were continuing to dig channels and build temporary barriers. Several of the surrounding fields and yards were still filled with standing water and debris and Jenny Leavitt was hesitant to believe the worst had passed.