Utah National Guard assists local first responders in rescue efforts after flash floods hit Hildale, Utah. The flood is believed to be the single most deadly weather event in Utah history.

Utah National Guard assists local first responders in rescue efforts after flash floods hit Hildale, Utah. The flood is believed to be the single most deadly weather event in Utah history. Photo: Utah National Guard | FlickrCC.

A huge wall of water swept through Utah and has already killed 16 people including two families that swept away in their vehicles in the small polygamous town of Hildale.

Four of the additional killed were taken from Zion National Park’s Keyhole Canyon. The hikers were from California and Nevada and were all aged from 40s to 50s but have not been identified.

The flooding took over all the way from Hildale, Utah to its sister city Colorado City, Arizona. The assistant fire chief in Hildale said that the flash flood began with heavy rains taking place in the canyons over Hildale.

The search effort in both areas was scaled back Tuesday night would pick back up in the morning, the Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency announced.

Unfortunately in the town of Hildale, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints polygamous group are believed to be discouraged from watching TV or using the Internet so they may have not have seen any warnings of potential floods.

The area is used to flooding yearly but had never seen something like this. The Hildale Mayor Phillip Barlow described this incident as a “100-year flood” and a “wake-up call for the community” when discussing at a news conference Tuesday.

The stream of water was so strong that vehicles were found a quarter-mile away and many of the bodies wouldn’t be found until the next day far downstream as far as five miles away.

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Martin Ackerman is a freelance writer and current editor originally from Staten Island, NY. His university schooling focused on English education and Japanese. He has a (not so secret) passion for art history and political science. When he isn't writing or editing you can find him at sci-tech conventions, building the latest LEGO city or pampering his cat, Tea. You can follow him on Twitter @MarMackerman.