1976 The Teton Dam



Memoir Monday - Called to Do a Work


Rescue a story about an event or action you felt called to do. This story will be a valuable addition to your legacy stories collection.

I would say that one of the greatest things that I have been called to do happened back in the summer of 1976. I was in Rexburg Idaho with a friend and the Teton Dam broke. We were both 16 years old and wanted to help. We were able to sandbag along the river in Idaho Falls to try and keep the flooding to a minimum. We were also called upon to help clean up the basements of those in the Rexburg area. We helped in bucket brigades that hauled mud and muck out of basements. It was smelly, hot work. We were transported by bus every morning to somewhere new. We would help people clean out their basements and houses. The floods had done so much damage.

As I traveled around, I saw dead animals on top of roofs, along with couches and even TV sets. I saw bloating, dead pigs and cows along the road. It took all summer to even begin to get things cleaned up. I would help bring up two year supplies of food from the muddy recesses of basements, only to have the State and Government tell the people that all of it was bad. I watched families cry over pictures that were completely ruined. So many things were lost and could not be replaced.

I loved helping. I didn't mind the mud or the smell. It felt so good to be making a difference in the lives of those people. I watched the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, put all the homeless up in the dorms of the college. They fed us in the cafeteria and they even trucked clothes through Deseret Industries. I was amazed at the organization and the ability to keep everyone safe.

Only a few people lost their lives. They were either right under the dam when it burst, or they refused to leave their homes. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of. To see an entire community come together, work together, help each other, and start to pull themselves out of an awful situation.

It was a summer of hard work. It was even harder to watch those who lost everything. Most of the homes ended up being torn down and rebuilt. There was agony, strength and miracles to behold. The church building only had a little damage in the chapel. We tore the carpet out and took out the pews. The damage was repaired. But right across the street, the flood waters washed the houses right off their foundations.

I will never forget the summer of my 17th year. I saw more in that one place than I have ever seen in my life. I saw love and grief and sorry and great joy. I met a Prophet of God in the hallway of the Manwaring Center. I even got to talk with him and felt like I stood in the presence of the Lord's anointed. The experience touched my heart in ways that were never the same. I grew so much with those opportunities.

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