Governor Cox Working On Disaster Declaration To Support Flood-Ravaged Enoch

Aug 9, 2021, 6:12 PM | Updated: 8:13 pm

ENOCH, Utah — One week after flood waters slammed the city of Enoch, Gov. Spencer Cox surveyed the city with state and local leaders and described the damage as worse than initially thought.

The storm was one of many over the last few weeks that hit southern Utah especially hard.

Cox said he was working on a disaster declaration for the state that would allow them to secure federal funding to meet infrastructure needs.

The storm damaged around 300 homes in the small city of Enoch, with some areas getting pounded with five to six inches of rain in less than an hour, according to Mayor Geoffrey Chesnut.

“Frankly, the numbers we have are indicating it was off the charts at some points during the storm,” Chesnut said.

The last major flooding event in 2012 damaged around 100 homes. Chesnut, who was not in office then, said the storm prompted the city to invest in a new storm drain system. It has lasted for years, but last week’s rain was apparently too much.

“There was a huge storm drain project that cost over a million dollars and that system was overwhelmed by this storm,” he said.

Chesnut said they are beginning to work with the federal government to build detention basins on nearby Bureau of Land Management land to be better prepared for the next storm; but given the amount of water that drenched the town, even with detention basins in place, he said, “there’s a possibility they might have been overrun.”

Cox said getting half of your annual rainfall in 40 minutes “is impossible to plan for.”

He surveyed the damage with state and local leaders Monday, and “most importantly, connect[ed] with people who have been through real hell the last couple of weeks and are working to get their lives back together.”

“This one looked different. It was bigger than the rest,” Cox said. “And we were hoping it would move to one side or the other, and it was a direct hit, and then we started seeing the videos on social media. The videos were almost immediate, with just walls of water that were washing through the town. Roads that weren’t roads anymore that were more like rivers. And just knowing that meant there was a lot of damage.”

As big as the storm was, the response has been just as impactful.

The governor said hundreds of volunteers have put in thousands of hours to help their neighbors.

He called on faith groups, businesses and others to continue to step in to help, and said the state would assist where possible.

“By the time the last raindrops from that storm had hit, people were here, and people were making a difference, and it’s been overwhelming to see,” he said.

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Governor Cox Working On Disaster Declaration To Support Flood-Ravaged Enoch