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Torrential rains: A week of heavy rains cause flooding and road closures

Large rocks and mud and debris cover SR-29 from Orangeville to Joe's Valley.


A week of storms in Emery County caused the streams to flow out of their banks and many homes had water in the basements from the massive amounts of rain that covered the county.

Storms that broke over Emery County started Tuesday night causing debris flows and floods that have made various roads impassible in Emery County. Saturated ground has sent large boulders careening onto roads.

State Routes 29 and 31 were shut down, as well as Cottonwood Canyon. Some residents near Joe's Valley Reservoir were stranded in their homes, though they were not in danger. The Sheriff's Office maintained contact with people who were 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 were on scene with heavy equipment and are sandbagging to protect homes.

The Emery County Sheriff's Office urged motorists to avoid canyon roads during the storm events.

"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 all worked to remove debris from 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 and closed from mile post 0 to mile post 12.

In Huntington canyon SR-31 was closed but has currently reopened. One vehicle was caught in a debris flow, but passers-by helped get the motorists out and emergency workers pulled the vehicle out of the flow so it wouldn't be swept away.

Residents should continue to stay informed.

Cottonwood canyon is now open. In Castle Dale, 500 east was closed because of flooding. Residents throughout the area have requested sandbags for their own property and the Sheriff's office and emergency management has sent them out.

In Orangeville, work to shore up a home threatened by floods is now under control and the home is protected. Emery County has sent sandbags to various communities.

The weather this week is expected to be warmer and drier, but residents are urged to be cautious as saturated ground has loosened boulders on hillsides and in all the canyons.

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