Heavy rainfall closes roads
Storms, debris flows close roads
Storms that broke over Emery County starting Tuesday night caused debris flows and floods that have made various roads impassible in Emery County. Saturated ground has sent large boulders careening onto roads.
Currently, State Routes 29 and 31 are shut down, as well as Cottonwood Canyon. Some residents near Joe's Valley Reservoir are currently stranded in their homes, though they are not in danger. The Sheriff's Office is maintaining contact with people who are stranded up there.
Cottonwood Creek, which flows out of Joe's Valley Reservoir through Orangeville and Castle Dale, is currently running higher than locals remember. Emergency crews are on scene with heavy equipment and are sandbagging to protect homes.
The Emery County Sheriff's Office urges motorists to avoid canyon roads.
"If you don't have to travel, stay out of the main drainages," said Capt. Kyle Ekker, the Emery County emergency manager. The Sheriff's Office has not closed all roads in all canyons. But danger can still exist. "Motorists should use caution traveling up any canyon, as hillsides have become saturated from these storms."
The Utah Department of Transportation, county road crews and Orangeville city is on scene removing debris from the roads.
The following closures are in effect until further notice:
SR 29 -- In Straight Canyon from Orangeville to Joe's Valley, residents currently have no way to come down the canyon. One of the residents is a search and rescue team member and has placed barricades to warn motorists of dangers down the canyon. Residents who live in the Joe's Valley subdivision are not in current danger. The road is currently impassible.
Cottonwood Canyon Road -- The road is currently covered in car and truck-sized boulders. The area is popular for bouldering and rock climbing, and emergency workers are assisting climbers and campers with getting their equipment out of the area.
SR 31-- Huntington canyon is closed. One vehicle was caught in a debris flow, but passers-by helped get the motorists out and emergency workers have pulled the vehicle out of the flow so it wouldn't be swept away.
Residents should continue to stay informed by watching and listening to local news reports, checking http://weather.gov and watching social media.
The Sheriff's Office will be posting flooding videos to its Facebook page
Download Photos of Cottonwood Canyon, Straight Canyon and Cottonwood Creek Debris Flows
All photos credit: Sgt. Dusty Butler, Emery County Sheriff's Office