UPDATE 9/15 4:05 P.M.:
According to Pete Kuhlmann, Washington County Emergency Coordinator, an additional five victim have been found bringing the total number of dead in the Flash Flood that occurred in Hildale to 12. One person is still missing. National Guard Troops have now been deployed and are heading towards St.George. Officials are asking the public to stay away from the Hildale area to allow emergency responders to work unimpeded.
The body of a child has been found approximately 5 downstream from the town of Hildale. Searchers are still searching for 1 adult and 3 additional children. According to Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, speaking at the news conference, Governor Herbert is sending members of the Utah National Guard to aid in the search. Authorities are still calling the search a rescue but are saying that the incident is approaching the 24 hour point. At that time, it could become a recovery situation. There are curently 3 cadaver dogs at the scene and will have a total of 7 cadaver dogs by this evening. Officials are still hoping to find survivors.
According to information given by Shane Brown with Newstalk 890 KDXU, news from the most recent press conference stated that lookouts are stationed above the Hildale area. If the water rises just one inch, they will be pulled out of the area. Authorities are calling the operation a ‘rescue/ operation and not a ‘recovery’ operation. The people they are still looking for include: 1 adult female woman and 4 children. Two vehicles were located downstream 1/4 of a mile. The vehicles included a Ford Van and a Chevy Suburban. Washington County Sheriff, Cory Pulsipher said that, “this is the worst flooding disaster ever reported in Washington County.” Crews from Mohave, Kane, Iron, Washington and Coconino counties are aiding in the effort. Their number one priority, according to authorities is the safety of public and locating the missing individuals.
Pete Kuhlman, Washington County Emergency Services Coordinator is advising the public to be aware of how dangerous flooding can be. Stay out of low lying areas and away from washes and other flooded areas. He stated that it was imperative that the public remain away from Hildale, and not to interfere with search and rescue workers who are still actively searching for victims.
Thee death toll from Monday’s flash floods has risen from six to eight, with at least five more missing. The deceased and missing were in two vehicles, a total of 16 people. Three people were rescued. More information will be released as it becomes available.
Governor Herbert released a statement regarding the flooding: “I am heartbroken to hear of the recent tragedy in Washington County. The State of Utah has offered its full resources to the town of Hildale to aid with the search and rescue effort. The Governor’s Office and the Dept. of Public Safety are in close communication with local government and public safety officials in the affected area. Jeanette and I express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims during this difficult time. I offer my thanks to first responders, volunteers and other officials involved in the recovery effort.”
Flash floods swept through the communities of Hildale and Colorado City on Monday evening, Sept. 14, causing the deaths of six people. Search and Rescue crews are looking for seven other people who are also reported missing. According to a report from Fox 13 News, Colorado City officials said the deceased were occupants of two separate vehicles who were caught up in the flooding.
Kevin Barlow, the Colorado City Assistant Fire Chief said that the victims were all from the Hildale and Colorado City areas and included both children and adults. Barlow stated that a massive thunderstorm hit the area at approximately 5:40, washing two vehicles from Canyon Street into a flood channel, and that multiple agencies are still on scene searching for the missing people.
State Route 59 has received damage from the flooding, and multiple vehicles were overturned by the rapidly rising waters.
According to the report, both the north and east forks of the Virgin River have risen rapidly, with the former rising from 42 cubic feet per second to 2,628 cfs in an hour, while the latter rose from 123 cfs to 3,692 cfs in an hour.
A reporter for The Independent on the scene in Springdale said that a crest came through town from the Virgin River at approximately 6 p.m., but it has largely receded now. The reporter stated the river appeared to be about 5 times its normal running size and that it all happened in about 15 minutes.
Zachary Almageur from the Cliffrose Lodge and Gardens in Springdale told The Independent, “Well, our beach is gone.”
The Independent will continue to follow the story of the Hildale, Colorado City flash flooding deaths.