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    TETON ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

    Ricks College Idaho State Historical Society

    History Department, Utah State University

    TETON DAM DISASTER

    Carolyn Thompson

    Interviewed by

    Richard Stallings

    March 31, 1978

    Project made possible by funds from the

    W.K. Kellogg Foundation Idaho State Legislature through the Idaho State Historical Society and National Endowment for the Humanities

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    UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY & RICKS COLLEGE

    HISTORY DEPARTMENTS

    COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT THROUGH LOCAL HISTORY

    ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

    INTERVIEWER AGREEMENT

    In view of the historical and scholarly value of this information contained in the in erview w C I 2 Tnz-Lh-Apr

    (name, please print) (interviewer, print) knowingly and voluntarily permit the Milton R. Merrill Library at Utah State University, the David 0. McKay Library at Ricks College, and the Idaho State Histor-ical Society at Boise, Idaho, the full rights and use of this information.

    7-

    Interview -r s Signatu

    3.3/ - Date

  • ,moo hereby assign full 4.1-41 , 111

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    UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY & RICKS COLLEGE

    HISTORY DEPARTMENTS

    COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT THROUGH LOCAL HISTORY

    ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

    INTERVIEWEE AGREEMENT

    You have been interviewed in connection with a joint oral ry histo program of the History Department, Utah State University,

    an Ricks College, and the Idaho State Historical Society. The pur-pose of this oral history program is to gather and preserve information for historical and scholarly use.

    A tape recording of your interview has been made by the in-terviewer. A verbatim typescript of the tape will be made and a final typed and edited transcripts, together with the tape will be made and a final will then he filed in the Milton R. Merrill

    ry Libra Special Collections, David 0. McKay Library at Ricks College, and the Idaho State Historical Society in Boise.

    c each of the s

    This material will be made available according to e depositories' policies for research be scholars and by others for scholarly purposes. When the final transcript is completed, a personal copy will_be sent to you.

    d scholarly value of this infor- .04

    (p/nse print full n and all rights of t is material to the Merrill Library at Utah

    ry State University, to the Library at Ricks College, and to the Idaho State Historical Society at Boise, Idaho, for scholarly purposes according to each of the institutions governing policies.

    Interviewee's Signature

    Lfi)itA. / 9 7/ Date

    mation, I, In viey.cf the histor

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    ORAL HISTORY

    INTERVIEWEE: Carolyn Thompson

    INTERVIEWEE: Richard Stallings

    DATE: March 31, 1978

    TETON DAM DISASTER

    S: Carolyn, will you please spell your full name?

    T: Carolyn S. Thompson.

    S: Where were you born?

    T: Washington, D.C.

    S: How long have you lived in the Madison Caounty area?

    T: Nine years.

    S: How old are you Carolyn?

    T: I'm thirtyfive.

    S: Do you have a family?

    T: Yes.

    S: What size and ages?

    T: I have a husband, he's thirtyeight, and I have four children: a son Marc,

    who will be thirteen this summer, and a daughter Lora who turned nine in

    December, a daughter Alison who turned severn last week, and a third daughter

    Heather, who will turn six in June.

    S: Your family hasn't changed any since the flood?

    T: Right.

    S: What is your present address?

    T: 87 Ash Avenue, Rexburg.

    S: Are you living in the same place you did prior to the flood?

    T: No, we moved across town to higher ground.

    S: What was your address?

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    THOMPSON -2-

    T: Before, it was 272 West 2nd North.

    S: So you were hit pretty hard by the flood?

    T: *Yes.

    S: What do you do for a living?

    T: I'm a homemaker, sometimes I substitute in the school system but not Very- often.

    S: Are you involved in any kind of business, farming or other business activity

    in the community?

    T: No.

    S: When they began building the Teton Dam, there was a certain controversy,

    were you aware of the controversy?

    T: No, I just didn't pay much attention to it, I might have known something was

    going on but I didn't have any opinions,

    S: You didn't have any feelings or opinions one way or the other about the construction?

    T: It was so far away, that I thought that it just didfir t really concern us.

    S: Did you or any member of your family have a premonition of the disaster?

    T: No.

    S: Where were you when the dam broke?

    T: We were all home, it was a Saturday morning and we were out cleaning the

    yard and doing various chores around the blase. So we were all there.

    S: Do you remember how you became aware?

    T: Yes. Our neighbor, Bill Bingham across the street had come over and told

    Larry that the dam had broken. I didn't have the car; our car was gone, I

    had been on foor or on my bike and had come back and he said that the dam

    had broken and Larry didn't take him seriously. He kept working in the yard

    and then after awhile, in our conversation, Larry thought, "Well if it really

    had broken why didn't he offer us a ride because he knows that our car is up

    at St. Anthony getting reupholstered." He never did, so he thought, "Well,

    he's just teasing or he would offer us a ride and be serious about it." So

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    THOMPSON -3-

    we let it go. Then about twenty minutes later, I was indoors and I was

    cooking a hot meal for noon which we don't always have; but this time I

    decided to do it for some reason, and I have most of the main dish on the

    stove nearly finished. Our neighbor, Kathy Norris, came knocking on the

    door. Her husband was a paramedic and drove the ambulance. She came to

    say that Kenny had been called away up to the dam since there had been a

    disaster up there and they thought that the dam was going to break. Now

    he left about 10:30 or 11:00 or earlier and this was around noon what she

    came over to our place. She offered to take us, because she said that she

    had heard that we were supposed to go up to the college and we could all pile

    in her car with her. Then we turned the radio on to double check and make

    sure and Don Ellis was coming over loud and clear with a very scary voice,

    you know, yelling from hei helicopter that the dam had broken and we believed

    everybody then, and just turned off the stove and took some belongings and left.

    S: What kind of things did you try to save?

    T: We didn't try to save anything. Larry took some underwear and socks for

    himself in case we had to stay over night, but he was a little incoherent

    and didn't even think to take anything else for the rest of us. We took

    a fresh pineapple out of the refrigerator. We weren't going to leave it

    since we were hungry. We tried to grab just a little bit of food. We

    figured we would have to eat lunch elsewhere, and then when everything was

    all right, we could come back and heat up some main dishes and start over,

    so we really didn't take a lot. We didn't try to save much of anything except

    I remember taking a portable TV and putting it higher in our bedroom; we had

    one downstairs that we didn't even try to move

    as far as trying, you know, I guess we weren't

    going to be very much water coming. And so we

    precautions.

    . I don't even know why, but

    really sure that there was

    didn't really take many

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    THOMPSON -4-

    S: You didn't think that you would be gone very long?

    T: Oh no. I think Larry kinda thought that we would be back in a couple of hours.

    So actually, this kinda sounds gleeful, but I kinda thought it will be kinda

    fun going up to the hill for awhile and watch the water trickle and then

    we will go back and I can mop the floor, you know, and this sort of thing. I

    really didn't, I guess, realize the trouble behind it.

    S: What did you do? Did you go up to the college?

    T: Oh yes. We grabbed the girls out of the sandpile and sent the neighbor girl

    home who was playing here to her parents and when we got up there and realized

    that we were there for awhile because of the policeman going around with

    loud speakers in their cars, and everything and we had to stay. We realized

    that our two littlest didn't even have shoes or socks on. They had been playing

    in the sand pile and didn't even have them on, and so I mean, they went around

    for a week before we got them straightened away in another pair of shoes.

    S: You were talking about going up to the college.

    T: Oh, all right. We were up there and there was a chain of events if I can

    remember. We parked Kathy's car and piled out and stayed there in the grass

    for quite awhile. Then they told everyone to go in and check in at the

    Manwaring Center with address and name since everybody was going to be worried

    about us, so that they could keep a record of us, you know, and we did that.

    Then, if I remember, they had a film set up in the Little Theater for the

    little children who wanted to watch and we sat up on the balcony in the

    Manwaring Center and looked across the valley and watched the water coming

    in. That was about 2:15, if I remember correctly. In the afternoon, we

    watched the water come in and then several people had binoculars and we

    borrowed them and went out of the west entrance on the west side, and watched

    Village Green Trailer Counrt wash away, all the trailers filed out. A few

    of the things we just kept track of, the land marks in the town and watched

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    THOMPSON -5-

    as this muddy water flowed through. But we stayed up on the campus and right

    in the Manwaring Center for at least an hour or more, and then Larry and

    Kent Vernon went over to the housing and decided they probably would not

    let them go back, and so at least we should try and get housing for the night,

    and see if there was any possibilities. We were very lucky, they put us in

    the first dorm. Then we had a little place of our own, that we could call

    home; and as it turned out, we ended up staying there seven or eight weeks at least.

    S: What were you thinking about as you were Watching the water go through the valley?

    T: Well, I still couldn't believe it was as deep as it was. I heard people say

    how deep the waves were, that hit Sugar City. Then later on though, about

    6 o'clock, we were settled in the dorms, Larry's home teaching companion, Denny

    Taylor, came by and said, "Larry would you like to come down with me and survey

    the neighborhood and see what has happened?" Larry said that he couldn't

    possibly do that. Denny said, "Well, I have a raft that I brought." It had

    two big innertubes with a plywood top I guess, or something like that, he

    said, "I've got it here on my old truck here and we could take it down if you

    would like." So I encourage Larry to go. I'm a daredevil and I would have

    gone if they would have asked me I think, So I encouraged Larry to go. I

    didn't realize that there was much danger, it looked like water to me, from

    our vantage point they were standing on the corner of First East and First

    South, by Doctor Fife's office, and that's about where the water had subsided,

    but I encouraged him to go and they were gone over two hours before he came

    back. Course, he was soaking wet. They had gone to the gym and Larry had

    changed into his gym clothes before he went because he didn't want to ruin

    the one set of clothes that he had. He said what had happened as they had

    gotten on this raft and started, like Tom Sawyer, you know, old fashioned.

    There was quite a bit of water, but as they traveled there were spots where

    the water had subsided and they would have to get off and carry the raft.

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    THOMPSON -6-

    They hitched a few rides on pickup trucks that were down in that area where

    it was dry and they made it down to our place and Larry said that he was just

    appalled. He was really surprised because.there was so much mud and as the

    water went through the town, of course, it just left mud in its place. And

    the mud gradually, as it was drying and packing over the days, it would sink.

    This was still at its very high level and he couldn't get our back door open,

    and by then, of course, most of the damage had really been done. Our house

    was a double wide trailer on a basement and so it had lifted it up and lots

    of logs and poles and beams from the lumber mill just east of us had rammed

    down into the back so that the north end of the trailer was much higher than

    the south. When he finally got through the dining room window and went in,

    he said that it was steep and slippery with mud, that he couldn't even walk

    up to the bedrooms without sliding back, so he just decided to leave it as it was.

    S: How long before you got back to the trailer?

    T: I wnet back that next morning, that Sunday morning.

    S: What were your impressions?

    T: Well, I was really dismayed. We had chained our 10-speed bicycles to the

    chain linked fence. The chained lined fence was pushed over in several places

    where the logs had gone through, and I was just amazed. I don't know, it

    was as if I was looking at someone else's house because I had looked through

    and I couldn't believe all the things that were ruined. Of course, the table

    was still set, this is what was funny. It hadn't jarred the table enough to

    move the silverware of the dishes off, so I gathered those up. I was very

    disorganized. I didn't go through and say, "Now I will pick up everything

    that's of value and put it in a box." I'd see something out of place and I

    would try to straighten it up. I was really emotionally disorganized, I

    guess. Like I said, one end of the house was up higher so the girls' bedroom

    and the end of our bedroom didn't get hit as much. All of our shoes and things

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    THOMPSON -7-

    in the closet were ruined but, as far as some of my shorter dresses, nothing

    was hurt above that level. As I say, I had real mixed feelings because for

    several years, I had wanted to move our of that neighborhood, and couldn't

    do it financially. There was no way that we would be able to sell this

    double-wide and get enough out of it, that we put in it at least to buy another

    home. But at this point I just thought everything was a loss. I might have

    been a little negative about it, and I didn't probably want to save most

    anything. It just looked all messy to me. Just filthy.

    S: Did you assume that you would have to clean it up and move back or 9

    T: No, there was no way I Was going to mvoe back into that house. I assumed that

    I might have to clean it up, but I never did want to live in that again. I

    don't know, I just didn't want to in a way, I guess if I had to, I would have,

    but I surely didn't want to.

    S: What kind of damage did you suffer?

    T: Which, emotional?

    S: Both, physical and emotionally. Was your place pretty well wiped out?

    T: Well, I might just summarize by saying that when we finally sold the hull. of

    the house to a man, a salvager, for $500 I' thought that it was a total loss.

    But when we pulled it off the foundation to take it and part if outside of

    town to resell it again, the two halved split and parted , then we realized

    that the man who hooked up our double-wide had never screwed those bolts on

    top up in the first place. That's why we were getting a perennial leak

    during the winter right straight down into the basement, Then, I had a lot

    of mixed feelings, because I was telling Larry the other day, there were so

    many things that we were about to do, that we hadn't done as far as remodeling,

    and replacing carpets in the home any way that it got us off the hook that

    way. We had so many plans drawn up, we were really going to do it, you know,

    for instance, remodeling the kitchen and expand the dining room area. But

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    THOMPSON -8-

    it would have been a major thing to do and by the time we would have done that

    we would have much more sunk into it that we would have never got out. So,

    in a way,. like I say, I hope nobody listens to this. Well, we pay more taxes

    and so I say that the government freed me from my dilemma, To me it was a

    blessing, and I'm sure that there are others who feel this way, but to me,

    that's the way that I looked at it.

    What was the most cherished item you lost?

    Baby pictures and all of our baby books. But not just baby pictures, but I

    had kept several scrap books and photo albums that were ruined. The pages

    were stuck together so that when you pulled them apart, it split the picture

    down the middle, you know what I mean? You just couldn't even save it at all.

    Lucky I had a new Book of Rembrance and I had taken it to my grandmother's

    ninety-third birthday celebration in Rupert, Idaho and completely forgotten

    it. Since it was there, it wasn't ruined. Then I also had kind of a keepsake.

    I had two Japanese dolls that you may have seen in the large glass cases.

    They had been stored at my mother's place since I had received them, because

    I had no place to keep them and so just the December before the flood at

    Christmas time I had brought them home. They were downstairs in the basement

    and they were just ruined. That was sad. I lost a few pieces of crystal too.

    I never had room in my home for a china closet so I kept all my crystal in

    the original packing boxes down in my pantry and the Sunday after the flood,

    a week after the flood, my mother was here from California. They drove up

    to see if they could help, and they were going to leave the next morning, Monday.

    Well before Monday came mother said, "I want to help you get your crystal."

    (Because she had given it to me for my wedding present.) We went down in there,

    the pantry, and sat on the thirty gallon trash cans full, that were full of

    wheat. We pulled them down off of the top shelf, (they had floated up there

    somehow) and sat on those and pulled out all of these goblets one by one.

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    THOMPSON -9-

    I still don't know exactly how many she had given me to start with, but I

    had twenty-four left, and so I think there were only three or four that were

    broken and maybe a few lost out of that whole lot of those. The interesting

    thing is the only thing that I can figure is, that the house floated up and

    then all those logs came down the back and as the house came back down and

    rested, the crystal floated off of the top shelf and went up onto the divider

    where the bar is, the boxes all sat there in a line. The only way that we

    could get the crystal out, (we couldn't remove the boxes at all) was to take

    each piece out of the box and rip the end open and take them out. Of course,

    the ends were all soggy, they were still wet, so it wasn't that hard, but it

    was interesting. So I did a whole lot of that, I just really was lucky on that.

    But we lost, oh I would say 80% of our food storage, which hurt because it

    had taken us along time to get it. We never did have enough money to go down

    and buy a whole lot at one time and we had just gradually built that up. And

    if you ever wonder what mung beans look like when they are growing outside,

    you should have seen our yard. All of ours floated out. We thought we had pretty

    well chosen the proper storage container for most of the wheat, and dried

    leggumes and things but the plastic containers, the white plastic containers,

    a lot of the lids under the pressure had popped and broken off and some of

    the metal containers were probably the best except they rusted around the lid.

    I don't know, that was a big loss. The other thing was in my sewing room,

    the chest freezer overturned (it was down in my sewing) and it was full. I

    could put nothing more in it, and we had just bought a half beef, that was

    ruined. I had a lot of frozen strawberries. It was little things like that,

    really mattered, it will take me a long time to get those back again and rhubarb,

    you know, things that I had gone to a lot of effort to put in there. But that

    was all lost, and, of course, that mixed real nicely with material, and stuff,

    and it made a big, fat, rotten mess. Then all my material that was on the

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    THOMPSON -10--

    shelves on the walls fell forward and all the shelves fell forward and my

    Bernina sewing machine was underneath the circular staircase, and it was

    crushed. But you know, we didn't have our minds on straight either because

    we took that in to get repaired and tried to save it. There it had sat, and

    it had to stay there for at least two weeks before we could get to it with

    all the other things piled on top of it. But I think down in the basement,

    those were the major, well the piano, the piano, come to think of it. It

    was toppled over on it's back, and we scooped mud out while it was still

    wet with our hands trying to get it but. It took six men, with a pulley system

    to get that up the stairwell, and it was just no way salvageable.

    S: Did you have any unusual or miraculous experiences connected with the flood?

    T: There were a lot of unusual ones, but I don't know that we had any miraculous

    ones in our family.

    S: How did you go about cleaning up your property?

    T: Well, like I said, my mother came that week and we just started going and

    people came and volunteered help. Some of our friends that weren't hit by

    the flood, just started coming and taking pieces 'of tupperware and taking

    them to be washed, It was kind of a slow thing, but people would come and

    offer to take things and wash them, and appliances, you know, and take them.

    But I guess it was Monday after that, no I guess they went for a whole week,

    with just this sort of thing, you know, working a little bit, piece by piece,

    putting the children in the nursery at the college and going down and working

    by ourselves. But it was the Monday after that, it was two weeks I guess

    when the volunteers started coming in, and Larry and Marc had been there on a

    Monday themselves trying to clean up the basement, and I don't think that they

    had gotten very far at all, maybe one room cleaned out, and it still wasn't

    cleaned. But then the next day I guess there were about twenty-one volunteers

    from Pocatello, including some of the full time missionaries that came. They

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    THOMPSON

    formed a bucket brigade and started bucketing all of the mud out of the stairwell

    windows and by the end of the day (which was probably about 6 o'clock) they

    were through and they had emptied out most of the mud so that was the majority

    of this mess.

    S: Did you stay in the area through the whole cleanup?

    T: Yes.

    S: Did you kids stay with you?

    T: No, when my parents were here, they asked what they could do to help and I

    said the greatest service they could render could be was take my three girls

    and take them back to California. Leave Marc who was twelve, or eleven, I

    guess, and leave him to help us. So that's what they did, and we ended up

    having Marc to help and I did't worry about the girls anymore.

    S: Was there any problems that you found to be very frustrating or difficult to

    deal with?

    T: Well, as the whole flood progressed?

    S: In the cleanup and

    T: In the payment, the reinbursement from the government? That whole week I

    felt was the most frustrating and upsetting and that I got more emotional about

    was after we had done so much to clean up and gone through so much anguish is

    to have people who weren't hit by the flood say, "Gee I wish that I had been

    hit by the flood, just look what you got now." Especially when they see our

    new home and think that that's what we got straight across. They don't realize

    that instead of having four more years and having our trailer house paid off,

    we are now having thirty years, and we have borrowed money that wasn't direct

    replacement, but I think that's the thing that disturbs me the most.

    S: Did you have any unusual experiences during the cleanup operations?

    T: Maybe just finding things that you thought were destroyed, you know that were

    still intact. I didn't think we really ran into, unless it was skatings from

    the bedroom down to the living room.

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    THOMPSON -12-

    S: Did you personally suffer any vandalism or looting?

    T: Not at first but towards the last, yes. As a matter of fact, even while we

    were living in our HUD trailer living on our own property, I don't know if

    people thought that we had moved out, and weren't there or what, some things

    like a clothes line, nothing that was really valuable, but it's a good thing

    that we were there most of the time to watch.

    S: You lived up on the campus for seven or eight weeks, then you got a HUD trailer?

    T: Right, and lived in their for eight weeks.

    S: Did you have them bring the HUD trailer on your own property?

    T: No, we had it on our own: property which I enjoyed having it there.

    S: When did you make the decision that you were not going to go back, that you

    were going t ...?

    T: Well, for a long time we felt that we would build back on our own place, and,

    of course-, as I say it was a basement and the basement for a long time was

    felt to be sound. So we tried to figure out how to incorporate the exisiting

    basement into a new house and we toyed with that idea for quite a while. It's

    quite a difficult thing to try and plan because I wanted to change the direction

    of the house, I wanted it facing the south instead of the west. But then,

    I don't know, Larry, I guess through all this planning and everything, realized

    how much I did not like the neighborhood, and I realized that this was my only

    chance to get out if I ever wanted to, and so I really let him know how I

    felt and he decided to se what we could do, to find another place that we liked

    better. So I would say as to when that decision came,_not it was probably towards

    the endo of July. This was fairly soon really, as far as a lot of people went,

    you know, making up their minds what to do. A lot of our neighbors still didn't

    know what to do, into the next year. They were still in their HUD trailers wondering.

    I'm getting back to that. You said, did you ever leave the area during

    the cleanup? I did leave at one time. I went to my uncle's wedding. He was

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    THOMPSON -13-

    married about the 5th of July. So I did leave. Larry didn't leave, though.

    He stayed. I was gone for a short itme and then brought the'girls back with

    me, after that trip. And it was while I was down there, in Escondido that

    Larry and I decided over the phone exactly what to do. We had seen a piece

    of property up a little behind the hospital that we really liked and I think

    we made that decision over the phone so it was probably at the end of July.

    S: Once you had made the decision, was there any question that you would regret

    that decision?

    T: No, we knew that that was the right decision. As a matter of fact, you know

    when you make praise about something, and you get that positive feeling, that's

    what we had ever since we had had that feeling, we feel good about it.

    S: Did you receive any government aid immediately after the flood?

    T: Yes, I don't know if you know the Red Cross aid?

    S: The volunteer aid?

    T: Well, we got food stamps, that would be government aid and I guess between

    the Red Cross and the church, I guess the only government aid we got was

    food stamps, if I remember correctly. I know we went through that field house

    and went from table to table from SBA loans and all of that, and we did get

    an SBA loan, but not right directly after but when we started putting ourselves

    together, we did take out a SBA loan.

    S: You did, then receive some assistance from church groups such as the Latter-

    Day Saints,' and

    T: Oh yes, and the Interfaith Counsel. I think they were the only two that

    directly sent anything to our family. I know that there were others in the

    commuinty.

    S: How would you describe the effectiveness of the various volunteer organizatios?

    T: As far as organization, I don't think at the beginning they were quite as

    organized as our church organizations, but the thing that impressed me about

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    THOMPSON -14-

    the Interfaith Counsel was that they set up their headquarters over there in

    the Catholic church and they stayed there and at Christmas time, after all

    of the other organizations had left, they were still here. They saw to it

    that we had Christmas tree lights, and decbrations to go on our Jaycee

    Christmas tree that we had received, and they told us that they were going

    to stay and help the last person fill out his claim. They didn't want to

    desert the area and leave until everyone was helped, and I felt that they

    were really good. They really worked hard at it, and they really seemed generally

    concerned. So I was really favorably impressed with them and I think that

    was the other group besides our church that I had anything to do with.

    S: Which of the government agencies did you deal with during the recovery operations?

    T: Well, the Small Business Administration and...

    S: The BOR too?

    T: They came to inspect our property and assess the actual damage, help us fill

    out a claim that way.

    S: Was that a good experience or...?

    T: Yes, I felt it was very fair. As a matter of fact, when they did tell us that

    they were going to reimburse us as a government, I felt that they were very

    fair to us considering we had been living in a trailer. When we purchased the

    doulbe-wide, I thought that we were really smart because we would pay it off

    soon, and then have the money for food storage and for our family and I know

    one of the real estate agents in town told us that we were foolish. You know,

    the equity was nothing compared to a house and htis sort of thing. We blindly

    and foolishly, I guess went ahead and made that decision and bought that

    double-wide. Well, a few years ago when I was discontent and wanted to sell,

    I went to another real estate agent and asked her to come and give me an appraisal

    for the house. It was so much lower than what the government actually repaid

    us, that I think that they were very fair.

  • THOMPSON -15-

    S: Were they efficient?

    T: I think some of them were very efficient and some of them weren't. Ours was

    name John Beacher, the man that I worked with, from Seattle I believe. He

    been back in Pennsylvanis and he had been in Oklahome and he had done several

    disasters and I felt that he really knew what he was doing. As a matter of

    fact, it was through his advice that we decided what to do, he counseled us.

    He was not a member of our church and he was amazed at the progress the church

    was making in the cleanup. But he flet that everyone was cleaning up too

    quickly. He felt that they were trying to save too much and that they would

    in the long run eund up replacing the items. You know, appliances and so

    forth. I felt that he was really efficients, but then later on we had different

    government workders, younger college students really, that had come from back

    east, and were out here working for HUD. Some of them I didn't think were

    very effieient. I wasn't very pleased with the way they were handling a lot

    of their time. I guess I'm a stickler for time, and I just feel that they

    were wasting a lot of their time. But most of them, on the whole, I think

    were tyring to do a good job. I just don't think that they were top notch

    personnel. I don't think that they had the proper training. I think most

    of them were quite concerned. I think there was a lot of read tape at first.

    and then my father had been a government worker. I remember all of the forms

    he had to fill out for this and that, when he was working on a naval base,

    and I realized that that was the way the government operates. I tried not

    not to be too critical.

    S: Did you have any dealings with state or local county authorities?

    T: Directly you mean? No, I heard a lot of them speak, giving us advice and telling

    us what to do on certain occastions, but I don't remember having any direct

    dealings with them.

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    THOMPSON -16-

    S: Do you feel that any who assisted in the recovery operations might have taken

    advantage of either you or the government?

    T: Now by recovery operations...

    S: Cleanup and rebuilding and...

    T: Helping us replace things?

    S: Yes.

    T: Yes I do. I think that once the word got out that the government was going

    to replace or reimburse us for what the actual face value for what we had lost,

    at their market value of what we had lot, I think there was a rew peopel that

    tried to take advantage of us. I think a lot of them would have been fairer

    in the lon run if they would have just said no, they couln't repair something

    then to have gone ahead and repaired it two, three, or four different times

    you know. I felt that some people in selling carpeting for instance, they

    claimed they didn't to this, but I think some of them raised their prices,

    when they saw a great market, you know ahead of them. It's been almost two

    years, and I think a lot of those business were washed out and I think that

    a lot of people who were in there for that reason are no longer around, I hope.

    I'm sure that there were a lot. As a matter of fact, the man who bought our

    trailer, we found out later, was associated with the Mafia. I really don't

    know who to believe, but I know that he had a lot of big currency on him, on

    his person that a lot of the people locally don't carry around all of the time.

    I think there were some men that follow disasters, you know, that type of

    person. They just follow disasters and they are trained, they have been out

    ofr a long time. They are shisters and they just know what to do. As a matter

    of fact, I think after things were cleaned up and when we were building our

    house, we were taken by one of them. Bronco Builders came to do our tile work,

    and we fell for him hook, line and sinker. He was a good tile man and we

    were in a hurry to.have the job done, and we paid him as he went for his material

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    THOMPSON -17-

    and then everything started falling apart. Then he was gone and I think that

    there were several people like that, too. Legally, I guess we can't even hold

    him because he was ignorant, you know, or whatever they call it, he didn't

    know what he was doing, but I think that there were several like that, but

    like I say, most of them are gone.

    S: Without divulging names, were you aware of anyone that filed frauduletn flood

    claims?

    T: No. I know there were some of our friends who fudged on a few few things,

    you know, the actual value. If they couldn't track it down and find it, they

    would make up a food sum, a nic sum. But I don't know if they actually got

    them, and I think that they had trouble getting claims too, and their money

    so I don't know.

    S: How do you feel about the flood two years later? Was it a man-made mistake or

    a disaster of divine will or was it a natural thing?

    T: Well, as near as I can tell, I know more about the dam now than I did before

    it broke. You know when it was built, you were asking me at the beginning

    of the tape when they were building it. As near as I can tell, it seems to

    me to be a geological factor, that possibly is because of a man error, I guess.

    The dam should have never been built there in the first place, this is my

    conclusion. I'm not syaing that it souldn!t have been built anywhere up

    along that canyon or that channel, there could have been a better place. I'm

    opposed to it being there, because I can see that the spring thaw, there's

    going to be lots of problems without it being there. _I don't know. I think

    that it will probably be lots of years before they get that built back there

    if they want to try and I don't think that they should build it in the same place.

    S: You don't have any bitterness personally towards the engineers?

    T: Well, no. If it had happened in the winter or at night, like everybody is

    talking about and people's lives were lost, then I think I would feel more bitter.

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    THOMPSON -18-

    I think that we are very lucky that it happened when it did, and we were able

    to get out as well off as we did. I think we are also lucky that it was a

    man-made disaster and we were reimbursed by the government. If it had been

    a natural disaster, hurricane, tornado or anything like that, we would get

    SBA loans but we wouldn't have been reimbursed straight across the payroll.

    Barbara Smith came to talk to our big group that first Sunday night after the

    disaster when President Kimball came. I remember, she mentioned, if I can

    say it correctly, she had never been through a disaster like this and here

    she was the Relief Society President of the Church world-wide and she had

    never actually been through this herself and she said the welfare program

    had not really been tested like it would be in this situation. She said,

    "I like to think that maybe the Lord had something to do with this and there

    would be no better place to test His welfare program than right here." That

    was her opinion, of course, and I feel the same way too, because it was a

    test and we were able to experiment and see where we were short--what personal

    things we needed, who needed more training and what supplies we needed. I

    think it was a real eye-opener to all of us. I think for many years now,

    of course, we have heard we are supposed to have food storage, that's what

    the church ahs told us, and we've all been a little lax. Some of us have had

    it and some didn't. But I think this showed us exactly what could happen,

    because the people up on the hill who were dry, furnished a lot of their excess

    food storage the first few days came into the Kirkham Auditorium and we were

    so grateful that they could do something like this and-I think maybe it was

    a test that way. So maybe I am philosophizing that it could have been divine.

    S: Has the disaster changed your life at all?

    T: Yes it has. As far as our family goes, there were so many, well I had a lot

    of emotional problems before the flood and had a few nervous breakdowns. I

    think when this happened Larry was mostly concerned about my health; he was

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    THOMPSON -19-

    worried. I made it through without having a nervous breakdown and personally,

    I would rather go through another flood than have anyone of my nervous

    breakdowns. That to me, I conquered myself and I felt like I was able to

    gain personally. But as far as family, we did suffer emotionally there for

    awhile together and we were able to work out our problems and we sat together

    and we prayed together and I think that united us. I felt like with our

    family, it's been two years since it has happened and we feel like we are on

    top of it. I think that we can say we can tackle anything. You know, we

    made it through that, and so we could conquer anything. And so, in a way

    I think that we have benlefitted spiritually and emotionally from the flood.

    T: Carolyn, thank you very much. This tape will be placed in the libraries of

    Ricks College and Utah State University and Idaho State Archives for use by

    future researchers.

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