Utah mourns with Hildale: Gov. Herbert meets with flood victims’ families

HILDALE – Gov. Gary Herbert visited Hildale Saturday afternoon to meet with the families who lost loved ones in Monday’s fatal flash flooding. The governor also briefly visited the site where two vehicles carrying 16 town residents were swept away by the floodwaters.

I’ve seen the flooding, and it’s hard to comprehend,” Herbert said, referring to a video he was shown while at Hildale City Hall that caught the fatal flooding.

While at the flood site, the governor said, “It makes your heart sink. … It’s hard to watch. It does show the power of Mother Nature.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert meets with Joseph Jessop and Sheldon Black, Jr. (L-R) at the Hildale City Hall. Both men lost wives and children in Monday's fatal flash flooding, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert meets with Joseph Jessop and Sheldon Black, Jr. (L-R) at the Hildale City Hall. Both men lost wives and children in Monday’s fatal flash flooding, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News

Storms over Washington County Monday resulted in flash flooding in the Short Creek area of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona; Zion National Park and the surrounding region. In Hildale, 12 people were killed: three women and nine children ages 4 to 11. In Zion, seven canyoneers were also swept away to their death. The body of a Hurricane resident thought missing was found late Thursday in the Warner Valley area of the Arizona Strip is also believed to have been a victim of the flooding.

In all, the flooding has left 20 people dead and one still missing. The bodies of the 20 have been accounted for and recovered. However, 6-year-old Tyson Lucas Black of Hildale remains missing.

“You never know what tomorrow will bring,” Herbert said, “so we have to live our lives today so we’re ready to meet our Maker tomorrow.”

Despite Monday’s tragedies, three Hildale boys managed to survive the flood. They were with their fathers, Joseph Jessop and Sheldon Black Jr., when the governor met with them.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert looking into a pit carved out by a flash flood that carried away two two vehicles full of women and children. The incident left 12 people dead and one missing, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert looking into a pit carved out by a flash flood that carried away two two vehicles full of women and children. The incident left 12 people dead and one missing, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News

Jessop lost wives Josephine and Naomi and seven of his children to the flood, though one of his sons survived. Sheldon Black Jr. lost his wife Della Black and two children to the flood, though two sons survived and one, 6-year-old Tyson, remains missing as of Saturday evening.

“They’re wonderful families,” Herbert said after meeting with the Jessops and Blacks. “They love their children. They love their wives.”

Such love of family is something Utahns throughout the state can relate to, the governor said.

Herbert said the families and community are grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have received.

“Everywhere I’ve been, people have asked me to express their condolences,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Hildale from all over Utah. Our 3 million people mourn with the people of Hildale and the families that have lost loved ones in this tragedy.”

In addition to the well-wishing of people from across the state and beyond, support has taken a very real form in the hundreds of people who have come to the twin communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, since Monday, Herbert said.

Site of the fatal flash flood where a “wall of water” came down and washed away two vehicles, a SUV and van containing 16 people between them. The incident left 12 people dead and one missing. The site was surveyed by Gov. Gary Herbert during his visit to Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News
Site of the fatal flash flood where a “wall of water” came down and washed away two vehicles, a SUV and van containing 16 people between them. The incident left 12 people dead and one missing. The site was surveyed by Gov. Gary Herbert during his visit to Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News

Agencies from the local to federal level began pouring into Hildale in the wake of the flooding. Among them was the Unified Fire Authority out of Salt Lake City, which established a coordinating incident command post in the town.

“It’s been a great cooperative effort between local community and local responders and the many hundreds of volunteer searchers who have come out to this event as well as the resources we brought with us,” Brian Anderton, a United Fire battalion chief, said.

Among the resources the state brought in to aid in search and cleanup efforts were the Utah National Guard and Utah Task Force 1.

However, six days after the flooding, command of search and recovery efforts is being transitioned back over to local teams, Anderton said. The United Fire Authority and others are beginning to return home. Unfortunately, he said, they aren’t leaving with the final result they hoped for, but they remain optimistic.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaking with a relative of those lost in the fatal flash flooding, Hidale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaking with a relative of those lost in the fatal flash flooding, Hidale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We’re still optimistic that we’ll see the outcome that we’re hoping for,” Anderton said, “that we’ll be able to bring 6-year-old Tyson back to his family and so they can start to recover and this community can go back to some sense of normal.”

Though some groups will be withdrawing from the area, Herbert said the state would still aid Hildale as requested.

After surveying the area where the two vehicles were swept away, Herbert said there were lessons that can be learned from the tragic event and that the state will also work with Hildale’s mayor and public works people on possible flood mitigation efforts.

“I appreciate the resilience of the people of Hildale,” Herbert said. “Their faith in God; they’re united as families and helping their neighbors – I think that’s a lesson we could all learn.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

 

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15 Comments

  • Real Life September 19, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Zero respect for Herbert. Are you kidding me?

    • Dexter September 20, 2015 at 3:32 am

      Well done Governor Herbert. he did the right thing… he has my respect

      • Real Life September 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

        I’m sure he can sleep at night now that he has your respect. LOL!

        • Dexter September 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

          Well it’s not like you have mine

          • Dexter September 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm

            I’ll sleep just fine to…. Yawwwwwn

          • Real Life September 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm

            It took you four days to come up with that? LOLOLOL!

        • Dexter September 25, 2015 at 4:31 am

          Yeah it did. unlike you I have a life

          • Real Life September 25, 2015 at 11:36 am

            Your life consists of trolling StG news. Pathetic.

  • Simone September 19, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Those children are in a better place. My heart goes to all who lost someone and to those who can’t get closure because the cult their families belong(ed) too doesn’t allow it. Same goes for the women who were killed.

  • fun bag September 20, 2015 at 12:10 am

    old herbert loves a political photo op. It’s so nice that he pretends to care. we are so blessed to have him as gov.

  • fun bag September 20, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Oh, did the LDS church endorse his visit? The church/state has an agreement with the pligs to never interfere in their “business”

    • ladybugavenger September 20, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      That’s why Texas has to prosecute Warren Jeffs

      • fun bag September 20, 2015 at 5:48 pm

        Tommy Monson and Warren Jeffs must have a great deal of mutual respect, with both of them being “prophets of heavenly father” and all…

      • Terry September 21, 2015 at 8:29 am

        Yep

  • mesaman September 20, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Too bad the governor didn’t hear what the exiled had to say about Lyle Jeffs and the in-group.

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