BOUNTIFUL – It became known as the Great Windstorm of 2011 in some circles, a windstorm that will be remembered for generations for the damage it left in its wake throughout Davis County.
Saturday, Dec. 1, is the one-year anniversary of the windstorm, and people are still feeling the after-effects of it in damaged landscaping and homes still in need of repairs.
On that Thursday morning last year, the storm whipped 102 mph winds through Davis County, closing businesses and some schools, ripping out trees and leveling sheds. Roofing contractors are still benefiting from the business it created for them.
The storm also caused the cancellation of the Davis Clipper/Bountiful City Christmas Electric Light Parade, scheduled for the day after the wind, because the Bountiful Police Department’s staff was stretched too thinly to properly man the parade after the storm.
Cost for the clean-up and repairs amounted to millions. Centerville alone estimated its damage at $8 million.
Bountiful City Mayor Joe Johnson said the city’s power department lost 100 power poles and had to bring in power workers from elsewhere to repair the damage.
“It was our biggest expense,” he said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursed the city to the tune of $1 million.
“We would have had enormous costs if the community hadn’t stepped in,” he said.
Davis County had $310,000 in damage to the golf course, said Charlene Lamph, the county’s risk management specialist. The county had a $100,000 insurance deductible and FEMA paid $88,000 to the county to replace an estimated 400 trees and make other repairs at the Davis Golf Course.
“It (FEMA’s payment) didn’t quite cover the cost,” Lamph said. But that number could have been worse, if they hadn’t kept a close count of what was spent and documented damage.
Today, she said, everything at the golf course is replaced or repaired except one shed. “Our staff did a fantastic job of keeping track of things,” she said.
Davis County also received two grants from the Natural Resource Conservation Service for $275,000 to clean out flood channels, said Davis County Public Works Director Kirk Schmalz.
The county paid about 25 percent of the cost of clearing those channels and finished the work in October.
As public officials look back at the effort, the main thing that stands out is that the wind brought the community together in a joint effort of neighbor helping neighbor and beyond.
“It was almost a spiritual experience rather than a tragedy as I watched people step up and help,” Davis County Commissioner John Petroff said on Monday.
That pride in Davis County residents being willing to help wherever they were needed following the storm also touched Johnson.
“Rather than wait for the government to come and do the work, we said ‘let’s get it done,’” he said.
A week after the wind Johnson said he was helping to remove a pine tree on property on Mill Street.
“I hadn’t been there 10 minutes when two guys showed up with a chain saw and just started working. Within a half-hour a man driving a truck showed up then another and the two trucks hauled the tree away,” Johnson said. “Within 45 minutes the tree was out and the stump had been dug up.”
That volunteer effort perhaps was most evident in the cadre of volunteers that swarmed neighborhoods on Sunday.
Churches cancelled services or held abbreviated services, asking members to instead go out and clean up debris left by the storm.
That massive effort, led by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought out between 700 and 800 volunteers from just one Bountiful LDS stake.
“We preach about love from the pulpit, but yesterday was pure love of each other,” said Corey Hanks, president of the Bountiful Utah South Stake, on the Monday following that massive effort.
To help in the cleanup, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called out the National Guard.
In Bountiful, they took out tree stumps city crews were struggling with, Johnson said.
The governor also allowed fallen trees to be dumped in a makeshift landfill near the Legacy Highway.
The Davis County Landfill waived dumping fees through mid-December, and Petroff said the county still has lots of mulch available, ready for the taking.
So does Bountiful, Johnson said.