Friday, May 13th was not an unlucky day for Charlotte
and James Pace. On this day the Pace's received a community gift
to help compensate for the loss of their home which was swept away by the
January 11th flood.
Chairman of the Virgin River/Santa Clara River Flood Relief, Inc. presented
Charlotte: "The generosity and support of this community is absolutely
awesome! Words are not adequate to express the depth of my gratitude for the
help we have received. No one was obligated to do anything for any of us who
lost our homes in this flood–yet from the very beginning, the entire
community has rallied to help–from the backbreaking chores of filling and
strategically stacking sandbags to feeding, clothing, sharing shelter and
comfort–to the huge effort of documenting the flood and raising money for
those of us who lost so much.
Receiving this check means a great deal more to me than the money can buy.
It is a manifestation of unselfish love of my fellow man. It is a reminder
that no matter what tragedy we face, life is good and together we can
My personal commitment is to “pay it forward” by renewing my efforts to give
to the fullest extent that my talents allow to make my community a better
place. It is my privilege to represent an organization called “Court
Appointed Special Advocates.” We are a volunteer organization that helps
neglected and abused children who are in the court system through no fault
of their own. It provides a wonderful opportunity for those who want to make
the world a better place–one child at a time. I invite any other community
members who are interested in doing this to contact me at 986-5725.
I so deeply and sincerely thank the members of this community who have given
so much time, effort, and money to help flood victims."
Creekside, St. George, UT
Interview with Charlotte Pace just after the flood.
Charlotte works in St. George and her husband works in Wayne County, Utah.
They commute back and forth between the two areas.
The minute I walked in that house I just loved it! I thought it was
the most beautiful home. I could see out the two sets of French doors
into the greenest backyard and a lovely deck all the way across the back.
I could see a hummingbird feeder hanging there in the big trees.
The backyard overlooked the park. All along the west side was the
Santa Clara River, which was a tiny trickle we could not even see from the
house. It fed the roots of so many trees and so much foilage.
I felt relieved on Tuesday morning when I got up and the river looked
lower than it had been. Now I realize that was because it had cut a
deeper channel. The day before, Steve Hatch and others had kindly
sand-bagged around the back of my house. that made me feel very
secure. I went off to work thinking I just couldn't sit there and
watch the raging river.
A few hours later, I tried to call some neighbors to check on what the river
was doing. I couldn't get any of them on the phone. I don't know
if the phones were out by then or they were all outside watching. At
work we were watching a televised real-time experience where a home in Santa
Clara that had been 300 yards from the Santa Clara River was being
undermined and falling in. That terrified me! It just broke my
heart! I thought how in the world could anybody see this happen to
their home. I left work to go home - not with any apprehension, but
merely an interest to see what was happening at my house.
I arrived and went in the house and worked a cross-word puzzle and ate my
lunch. Within about 30 minutes my neighbor, Lynn Cook, who lived on
the very end of the cul-de-sac, frantically knocked on my door.
"Charlotte, can you move your car out of your garage? We need to move
our things in there." I said, "Oh, Lynn, really? Is it hat close
up to your house?" He said, "We just want to take every precaution and
move our things out. We think we are fine." I immediately pulled
my car out to the front of the house. I usually put my keys in a
certain place in the house. But this time I wanted to help them, so I
quickly set them down somewhere in the garage. I picked up a couple of
empty boxes and went running.
Within a short time that house was undermined by the river and began to fall
in. Thee are no words to describe out feeling, but my wonderful
friend, Jule Cook, and I just held each other and wept. I said, "Jule
and Lynn, you spend the night with me. We will work on what we need to
do tomorrow." Never thinking that another home could go in!
Then another house on the other side of the cul-de-sac went in. I
had never gone back to get those keys. I still had no idea my home was
in danger, and I thought I would get them later. I didn't feel any
danger. I was just so overwhelmed with sorrow for my friends.
Lynn Cook became very concerned and told me I better go in and gather my
things. Just in case. The first thing I thought was that I had
better find my car keys. I began to frantically look for them.
Within a few minutes the fireman said, "Gather they things you want right
I had letters from my family from the Civil War up to World War I. I
had pieces of furniture from the early 1800s. I had Confederate money.
I had jewelry that had been given to my grandmother a generation earlier.
I had quilts made by my mother-in-law that had been awarded first prize in
the State of Utah. I had quilts from the Depression that wee given to
my granny in south Alabama when she ran a little store. When people
couldn't pay her in cash, they would pay her in quilts. I had so many
They were scattered all over the house. It was the biggest house in
Creekside, 2,300 square feet. It had two complete kitchens. The
whole lower level was made for a separate family. My mind jumped from
one item to another. but always, my mind was primarily on those car
keys. I rushed out to the garage. My heart was torn thinking I
must get in there and other those treasures. Within minutes a swarm of
20 volunteers, friends, neighbors and people I had no idea who they were,
came rushing in my house calling, "Charlotte, what should I get? What
do you want first?' I had them packing my grandmother's china and then
I ran to the other end of the house and told someone about something else.
Then I ran back to the garage to look for my keys. I was almost
hysterical at this point and feeling so out of control. These
people worked tirelessly. They were just like bees buzzing around,
going here, going there, jerking things off the walls, taking furniture out,
and working as fast as they possibly could.
They took it next door to Bob Duffin's house. At the same time, they
also had to move Lynn Cook's furniture that had been moved into my garage.
Now we had my furniture--as much as they could get out which was probably a
little less than half-Lynn's furniture, and Bob's furniture all at his
My car was still in the street. I couldn't find those keys and the
fireman said, "You must get out now. Drop what you have right now and
get out." We all did that. I ran way down to the other side of
the subdivision to Kent Jamison's house. He had taken my jewelry box
to his home for safekeeping. I knew I had a spare car key in the
jewelry box. It had taken me that long to realize it.
I got the key, ran back and moved my car, still not thinking of all the
things that had been left in the home. It was hours before my house
actually went into the river. That was something that broke my
heart, too. I know those firemen did the bet they could. I
know they had to consider loss of life above anything else. I
understand that. But, still, it as a heartbreaker to be in the street
and know that I had at least half, maybe more, of my valuable possessions in
that house, things that I loved, and I could not go in and get them.
The firemen and others kept saying, "Your house will stand." Your
house will be fine because you have a full basement that goes all the way
down and that wonderful foundation will hold it." I truly believed
that. We had no mental picture of how deep the river had cut or what
it was doing.
I went into Bob Duffin's house looking for something of mine. I saw my
things on his dining room table and chairs, on kitchen counters, everywhere.
Bob said, "You stay with me if anything happens at all to your house."
One by one our houses would go, each neighbor was saying, "You stay with
me." I still could not believe my house was going to go down.
After a couple of hours, we saw the third portion of the three-car garage
go. We knew then that the house was probably going to go. We
stood there in a state of shock and watched. I have kind of lost touch
with time. I can remember the sequence of events, but I don't
know when they occured. Bob and I stood there, interlaced our
fingers, and clutched on to each other and were trembling like leaves.
He kept saying, "You are cold. You are cold. We will go get you
a jacket." I said, "Bob, I am not cold." Then we saw my house go
The river was going wild. The firemen told us to evacuate the next
house which was Bob's. Now we had to get my things, Lynn's and Jule's
things, and Bob's things to somewhere else. At that point everything
was so scrambled. People were just rushing in doing everything they
could. We were taking belongings to any and every house that was kind
enough to open their garage door. We were shoving things in as fast as
we could. People were going down the street with washing machines,
dryers, refrigerators, sofas, boxes of books, everything they could take.
We ended up evacuating. I believe, nine houses. By this time
many, many people were helping. Then, Bob's house went in. In
the meantime, we were evacuating the house directly across from Bob's.
It went also. Their belongings were scrambled up with everyone else's.
It was occurring on both sides of the cul-de-sac. It worked its way up
to the very last house on both streets. Those houses are now condemned
because they have been undermined and are dangerous.
There are still things I know were removed from my house that I haven't
found. I know that is true for others. It is a large financial
loss. But we certainly are not people focused on material things.
Yesterday, I was in the Dollar Store picking up things for my new dwelling
because now I feel like a bag lady. I found a little key chain that
had a quotation from Albert Einstein. It said something like, "In the
midst of difficulty there is opportunity." I thought, "this is what I
need to remind myself every day." I just want to be open, and so does
my husband, to the opportunities that exist for growth. to do whatever
it is that we should do in this situation.
On Sunday, January 23rd, my friend, Blanche Rich, saw a notice in The
Spectrum that a picture had been found lodged in a tree in the streambed
below the Sun River Golf Course, several miles downstream. She saw a
resemblance in the photo and thought it must be my mother. I was out
of town. Blanche clipped the picture and showed it to me on Monday
morning. "That's my mother and me!" I told her. I was a year
old. It was 1944. She took me to a photographer and had this
picture taken of us and sent it to my father who was overseas with the Army
Air Corps. I didn't see my father until I was two years old. The
frame is torn away and lost, but the glass in not broken, the picture is not
damaged and the matting is intact. This is the only picture I now have
of my mother and me--all the rest--the pictures of my brother--all--down the
river with the rest of that 30 years of my life. I was just starting
out when this picture was taken and now Mark and I are starting out all over
again. It is a miracle picture.
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