NORTH SALT LAKE – The mayor and city council for North Salt Lake passed a resolution calling for a state of emergency following a massive landslide that hit the Eaglepointe community development on Tuesday.
Whether the city will ever receive relief funds from county, state or federal governments remains to be seen.
During a meeting with families affected by the slide, NSL City Manager Barry Edwards went further, saying he was “not optimistic” that any relief will come.
That’s because the threshold for receiving any such funds depends on damage to public – not private property in the event of a disaster like Tuesday’s slide.
Davis County Emergency Services Coordinator Ellis Bruch also attended the meeting at NSL City Hall, and he said he didn’t think there was enough damage to public property to warrant any county relief, which must surpass $1.52 million.
Edwards estimated the current cost of damage to the hillside at $25-50,000.
Disaster relief for homes would not be included in any figure used to attract taxpayer-funded relief.
The news did not sit well with homeowners, some of whom expressed frustration and anger toward the city and developer.
Sherry Brooks lives down the hill from the slide on Parkway Drive. When asked whether the city or the developer were responsible for the disaster, she said, “I think they are both to blame.”
Todd and Julie Chapman, who also live on Parkway Drive agreed. “The city and developer both have responsibility on this one,” said Todd.
David Utrilla is the brother of the primary owner of the home that was destroyed. He spoke on behalf of the family, and expressed gratitude for those who have stepped in to help, but had a few sharp words for the city.
“When these catastrophes happen, the best people come forward,” said Utrilla. “We haven’t seen any support from the city. They have a moral obligation, and they haven’t done anything.”
Utrilla also described the terror his family experienced early Tuesday morning.
He said his father woke up and heard a noise in the backyard. When he looked outside, he saw the hillside descending into the home.
Utrilla said his father awakened everyone and got them out of the house; some of them wearing only pajamas or underwear. He said his brothers had to move quick to get the cars out of the garage before the house came crashing down.
Utrilla said some family members had to be taken to the hospital for anxiety treatment on Tuesday.
Utrilla also said that the family had been “crying and pleading” with the city to do something about the moving hillside in the days preceeding the slide.
As for what happens next, Edwards said the ground will have to dry out before crews can come in and move the dirt – which could take several weeks.
Edwards also noted that the city plans to reclaim the site.
Assistant City Manager Linda Horrocks told the Clipper that environmental engineers have placed monitoring devices on the slide area to keep track of its movements, if any.
Meanwhile, some families were not allowed to return to their homes as emergency officials still considered their buildings “at risk.”
Regarding who was to blame for the slide in the new development, Horrocks said “It’s a wait-and-see game.”
City Engineer Paul Ottoson also spoke during the meeting and addressed concerns over what will happen to the slide over the next several weeks. He also confirmed that his office examined the development plans for Eaglepointe and the city council approved the project on his recommendation 12 years ago.
Edwards noted that the “bar is high” for geologists and engineers to prove such a project as unsafe.
As for responsibility, Edwards said it’s up to attorneys, insurance companies and other officials to decide.
“If we are responsible, we will step up,” he said.
Addressing the Utrillas, Edwards said, “We feel for the loss in your family.”
Residents of 22 homes that were evacuated were allowed to return to their homes on Wednesday, but they would not have natural gas service for at least a week, since officials are wary of gas leaks in the area.
The family of homeowners Ismael and Elena Utrilla also released a statement regarding their loss.
The Utrilla family’s home was the only one destroyed by the slide.
The statement said, “We are very thankful to those who have expressed concern about this tragedy that has occurred. We are grateful that, although the 12 members of our extended family that were living there lost everything that they owned, none of their lives were lost.”
The statement also expressed thanks to the Red Cross, friends, neighbors and the members of the local the LDS Church community for their support and donations of food and clothing. The family also expressed gratitude to Sky Properties for giving them temporary living accommodations.
The family also announced that a relief fund had been set up at any America First Credit Union for anyone wishing to make a monetary donation, under the “Utrilla Family Relief Fund.”