Samak residents use own excavators to save properties in Beaver Creek flood
Homeowners in Samak got help from neighboring communities, passersby and heavy machinery from as far away as Georgia during Monday afternoon's flood.
Samak started seeing higher waters in Beaver Creek on Sunday and things really started spilling over late Monday.
The town on the road to the Uinta Mountains, SR-150, saw flooding around mile marker five, and downstream at mile marker three.
Beaver Creek runs between and around houses in Samak. South Summit volunteer firefighter and Utah National Guardsman Nathan Miller said many homes got inundated to some degree.
“No less than 20 houses have had water through the front door,” he said.
Samak coordinated a response on multiple fronts when the water began to rise.
The South Summit Fire District had been in the area Sunday. Miller contacted Chief Mike Sanderson Monday to put out a call among the all-volunteer force.
A neighbor called the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wards, and the Kamas Young Single Adults ward and others responded to the sandbagging effort.
The sandbags themselves came from Summit County Public Works, the sandbagging resource for unincorporated county areas. All public works facilities require proof of residency.
Miller said county public works got sand to Samak within an hour of his call.
Other tools came from the residents themselves, who had everything from a skid steer and tractors to side-by-side off-roaders. Two residents used their own excavators to divert floodwater.
Miller said one resident dug his excavator out of Brown’s Canyon Sunday afternoon.
“He had to plow snow to get to it and borrow a larger truck to tow it out,” Miller said. “And I think he worked through the night, making repairs and replacing O-rings and hydraulic lines to put that into use.”
A newer seasonal resident, who returned from Georgia in part because of the flood risk, also lended an excavator help.
“He towed an excavator from Georgia to Samak, arrives after a two-day drive yesterday afternoon, and was immediately in the cabinet of his mini excavator,” Miller said. “[He] worked through the night diverting water and certainly saved several houses.”
Chief Sanderson called the damage minimal for now, but said he expects more to come.
“We’ve got a lot of snow up there [in the Uintas],” he said. “It's amazing, the amount of snow that's still up there.”
The website summitcounty.org/flooding/ has more on where to find sandbags, how to determine if you’re in a floodplain and other flood resources.
Some flood mitigation efforts require permission from the authorities or property owners.
Residents around Willow Creek have had to contend with the patchwork of property owners along the creek, complicating flood mitigation and raising potential legal liabilities. The Army Corps of Engineers has provided permission for limited work on Willow Creek during emergencies.
Summit County police tracked down but ultimately did not charge a Snyderville Basin resident who placed sandbags in the creek, flooding the park and sending water to other properties in the area this week.