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July 31, 2021

Some Box Elder County residents still cleaning up 3 weeks after windstorm

WILLARD, Box Elder County — Three weeks after a big windstorm blew through Northern Utah, clean up efforts continued in Box Elder County. There wasn’t enough overall damage in the county to qualify for government disaster funding, which meant it was up to the residents.

The signs are still there — clues that something big happened.

But even though most of the trees and large branches that fell from that windstorm have been cleaned up, Shawna Cunningham said there’s still quite a bit of damage to her home that hasn’t been fixed.

“We heard this big thump and a tree came down and smashed into our awning. We had to push it out of the way to get out of our home,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham rents a trailer at the Hot Springs Mobile Home Park in South Willard. It was the hardest-hit part of Box Elder County when a windstorm blew through Northern Utah in early September.

“I’m moving because I can’t do this,” said Cunningham, while looking at the aluminum siding that has been ripped off the side of her home. “I’ve lived here for 10 years.”

A manager of the mobile home park admitted there is still work to be done to some of the damaged homes, but it’s been tough getting a contractor to do it all.

“Utah is booming and everybody is busy and contractors are hard to come by right now, but we will keep going and we will keep fixing and going from that point,” said Emily Morgan, who is a park manager for the Hot Springs Mobile Home Park.

When the windstorm hit on Sept. 8, it left trees and large branches on top of homes and cars. Power lines were down, too.

“It was definitely a devastating thing to come in and see all of the trees down and the houses destroyed,” said Morgan. “But the first thing we did was make sure everybody was OK and start removing the trees to make it safe.”

Many residents are still fixing what the storm did just up the road in Willard.

A large woodpile in town continues to grow. It’s where the city allowed residents to dump all the broken branches and trees to be cleaned up later.

“I still have people calling me every day, wondering if they can still put stuff down there,” said Willard Mayor Kenny Braegger. “I’ve never seen a storm that did this kind of damage.”

Not only were residents still cleaning up from that storm on Saturday, but some were cutting down branches and trees in preparation for the next storm.

“You need to trim your trees. You need to get all the broken stuff out or it’s going to fall next time on the fence or on the house,” said Janet Vail.

No one knows when that next time will be, only that there will most likely be a next time.

Hopefully not as damaging as this one.

“It was crazy. I couldn’t believe all the pine trees that just went down,” said Vail. “We got lucky nobody was hurt here.”


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