Jason Llewelyn wears many hats as a Carbon County employee. Llewelyn is the emergency management director for the county as well as dive team member for search and rescue. On Saturday afternoon, he was a first responder on the scene of the Pillings Trailer Court flooding disaster.
Countless photos and stories have quickly circulated since the incident, but very little is known about the initial emergency. Llewelyn briefly explained some of the circumstances surrounding rescue efforts.
According to Llewelyn, the flooding occurred without warning. “The initial call stated that the river jumped the bank and was quickly flowing into the trailer court,” he recalled. “It took me about five minutes to get to the scene. By then, the water was past my knees. We figured it rose about one foot per minute.”
The force and amount of water ripped through the trailer court, forcing its way into homes and vehicles. “We rescued several people from their homes,” Llewelyn confirmed. “After literally carrying a few people out of the water, we knew we had to do something else. We used tires and various other objects that would float to get people to safety.”
Flood waters tore several homes away from their foundations, raised vehicles and small structures off the ground and ruptured water, sewer and gas lines. Debris was forced throughout the park and into nearby property located outside of the trailer court. Homes were filled up to six feet with water and heavy mud was left behind.
With no inclination that a disaster was about to occur, residents were unable to prepare or evacuate the area. “It’s amazing that no one was seriously injured,” Llewelyn stated. “There were a few people who suffered minor injuries, complained of chest pains and such, but nothing life threatening. Some of the rescuers even suffered mild hypothermia due to the cold water temperature.”
Unaware of what hazards were present following the flood, emergency officials decided to quarantine the trailer court that evening. Power was shut off to the area and remained off as of Monday evening.
It is unknown at this time when clean up efforts will begin. “We are waiting on reports from the health department,” Llewelyn explained. “Until we know the area is safe, we cannot allow volunteers in to the trailer court to begin cleaning up.”
In the meantime, large piles of thick, dark mud lines the roads, yards and inside of homes. The damage is significant and most of the trailers within the mobile home park will likely be condemned.
Llewelyn is hopeful that federal assistance will be available in the near future. However, it will take time to apply for assistance and several criteria must be met in order for individuals to qualify. Property assessments will begin as soon as the area is deemed safe.
Any individuals who need a place to stay due to recent flood evacuations may go to the Carbon County Event Center for shelter, food, clothing and various other supplies. Those who need to report damage or need assistance should call 472-HELP.