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Rainfall record in Delta shattered, residents prepare for more flooding

(One street with standing water in Delta Photo: Paul Nelson)

DELTA, Utah — Homes, schools, crops and the local hospital are all damaged by record rainfall and severe flooding in Delta, Utah. Some residents say they had little time to clean up the damage from the first flood before they had to brace for a possible second one.

Residents of Delta say they’ve never seen a storm like it. Every now and then, the rain would stop falling in Delta, however, shortly after, it would fall full blast. 

Officials with the National Weather Service confirm four inches of rain fell on Delta between 5 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday. The previous 24-hour record in Delta was 1.45 inches.  

Record rainfall in Delta

The off-and-on storms lasted through most of the day on Wednesday, and city officials report they haven’t spoken with any residents that didn’t have standing water in their homes, garages or yards. One woman, who wanted to stay anonymous, said her driveway slopes down, which forced flood water into her garage. 

She said, “Then, it started raining again, and it started coming in, again.  So, I said, ‘We’ve got to get sandbags because it’s obviously supposed to rain all through the night.”

She was one of many people who lined up around the Delta water tower to get sandbags for their property, hoping to divert the water away from their homes. Nicholas Stinson also packed his truck with bags, even though his basement was already flooded after water came through the windowsills.

(Pictured above, two of dozens of volunteers filling sandbags then loading them onto trucks. Pictured below, the line of vehicles hauling sandbags wrapped around the water tower in Delta. Photo: Paul Nelson)

“We were trying to throw anything and everything [at the water].  We were throwing used clothes on the ground to build a barrier around it, like a trench,” Stinson said. “It was a losing battle, trying to get the water out.”

City officials confirmed most residents had water come into their property and they believe more than two dozen homes were damaged significantly enough to need a major repair. Leslie Arrington was able to keep the water out of her house, for now, but her backyard was completely covered.

Arrington said, “We have 1.87 acres that is flooded. It looks like a lake.”

City Spokesperson Jody Anderson reported dozens of people volunteered to fill sandbags for their neighbors or anyone else in need, and she estimates around 12,000 had been filled by early afternoon.

“We’re just trying to get everybody to a place where they’re comfortable with enough sandbags for what’s coming here,” Anderson said.

Flooding at the local hospital

Meanwhile, disaster clean-up crews were clearing the water from Delta Community Hospital. According to Communications Specialist Shauna Watts, the bottom floor got between six and eight inches of water after a nearby storm drain got jammed with debris.  Luckily, she says patient care wasn’t disturbed.

“The hospital continues to be fully open and is caring for patients. If individuals need medical care, they should come to the hospital,” Watts said.

Farmers have a new problem to deal with

However, the already rough year for hay farmers in Delta has gotten even worse, thanks to the floods. Farmer Luke Anderson said the heavy rain and hail may have knocked newly-laid seed out of their pods, causing them to wash away in the floods.

“The amount of water that’s coming down, right now, is flooding out their fields,” he said.

Plus, according to Anderson, hay can’t be bailed immediately after it’s cut down since it has to dry out before it can be gathered.

“The hay has got to be at a certain moisture level when you bail it or all the leaves will fall off,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to have so much stem moisture in there.”

He believes the rain may have destroyed any hay that was cut and still drying out. Anderson said if hay gets dry, then wet again, it becomes impossible to sell.

He said, “You get a layer of black mold underneath the hay. It makes it go rancid.”

Also, if the weather turns hot again, any hay still in the fields may get “scolded,” causing more damage.