Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Home threatened by ice jam


December 12, 2018

As the water and ice started to pour onto the property, the owner just looked on in terror.

Not knowing what do or who to call, he just stood there shocked and wondering if he and his wife would lose their home.

The nightmare for Jamestown residents Susie and Todd Heslep started Thursday afternoon when the Green River started having an ice jam. This jam pushed water and ice onto their property engulfing the septic system and leach pond and coming within several feet of their house.

“The ice jam was very scary because it was so sudden and there was no warning whatsoever,” Susie said. “Todd had just walked out of the house and he heard what sounded like a bulldozer coming down the river.”

He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Susie said Todd didn’t want to call her and tell her what was happening, but he did.

“Who would worry about flooding in the winter,” Susie said. “We have to do something to save our property.”

This isn’t the first time the Hesleps have seen an ice jam on the Green River. Last year, they saw something similar, but nothing compared to what they were seeing this year. Most of their property is under frozen water or ice and as it continued to climb over the banks, they didn’t know if it would get to the house.

“We’re just really, really nervous,” Susie said. “This is the closest it’s ever been.”

Todd said he’s concerned about the septic system and the leach pond the water is covering.

“If it breaks through into the sewer system it will come into the house,” Todd said.

He’s also concerned about the erosion that’s going to happen when the water and ice recede.

Todd said he called the Sweetwater County Emergency Management Agency numerous times and was told they couldn’t do anything to get rid of the ice jams in the river and that they would have to wait for nature to take its course.

While waiting for help, Todd and Susie were taking turns wearing waders to save five cats that were taking refuge on their property. Susie said two of the cats were stray and three were feral cats. They rescued three cats and the other two pulled themselves out of the water and ice.

Susie was keeping herself busy by taking care of the cats and finding homes for them.

The Hesleps weren’t sure if they would receive help when on Thursday night members from the Sweetwater County Sheriffs Office and Green River Fire Department arrived with sandbags to help set up a barrier to protect one side of the home. Todd said he later found out that emergency management had asked the sheriffs office and GRFD to put up sandbags to save the home.

“We are beyond grateful that we have such great people watching out for us,” Susie said about the GRFD and sheriffs deputies. “They were out here every hour through the night checking on us. They stepped up above and beyond.”

As Friday was coming to an end, Susie was still watching to see if there were any changes. Todd, who is a local contractor, was already coming up with ideas on how to protect the home.

He thought about at least breaking up the ice on his property and trying to divert the water on his property back to the river, but later realized that idea might not work.

He decided to place two pumps in the area where the water is standing to try and keep up with the water. On Tuesday morning, things at the house hadn’t change.

Todd said he’s keeping the pumps going and is hoping to get the water to go down.

“I’m just praying for cold weather,” he said.

Even though things seemed to have stabilized, he and Susie have overnight bags packed in case they need to evacuate.

“We want to make sure we’re ready to go if we need to,” Susie said.

As fast as the ice jam came in on Thursday, the Hesleps felt they need to be ready to if they needed to leave.

Todd reported Tuesday, the situation at the home hasn’t changed. The water hasn’t past the sandbags and he’s hoping it doesn’t.

The Hesleps aren’t the only ones being impacted by the ice jam. The Sweetwater County Park and other Jamestown residents’ properties are currently under water and ice. The park has been closed.


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