Cedar City ready for flash flood danger

Aug 24, 2022, 7:38 PM | Updated: 9:23 pm

On standby for potential flash floods and closely watching the forecast, some southern Utah communities were looking to the sky Wednesday evening wondering what the storms would bring.

Spotty rain showers moved over areas like Cedar City. The city has seen some flooding during the monsoon season this year, but nothing that compares to the devastation in 2021 when more than 200 people were displaced or saw damage from flash floods.

The calmer 2022 is thanks in part to the rapid improvement projects the city took on before the season, to avoid a repeat of last year.

“We cleared over 100 catch basins, cleared out storm drains, focused on culverts, and just mitigating and diverting all that water into areas that it’s meant to go,” said Gabrielle Costello, community relations and public information officer for Cedar City.

The city took on long and short-term projects, she explained. Even with the flooding they’ve seen in the past month, such as several inches of water on neighborhood streets, nothing lasted and the water receded quickly.

“Our rapid improvement projects have proved to be successful, and we haven’t seen any devastation so far,” Costello said.

Every time storms brew in the forecast, she indicated that the city’s closely watching.

At their public works facility, a giant pile of sand sits ready for DIY sandbags. Shovels line a building wall, next to a pile of empty bags. Costello said they are making a call for volunteer groups to come fill the bags so that they’re ready in case people need them.

Iron County Emergency Management said Wednesday that there are thousands of sandbags ready and placed in locations throughout the county. The county has stationed heavy equipment at key locations with past problems, Commissioner Mike Bleak explained, and they’ve done work to clear culverts.

Flash flood watches and warnings come and go, and Costello talked about how sometimes it’s hard to tell what will happen.

But the city knows this: They’re prepared and determined to help residents keep things under control.

“You just never know. You don’t know if it’s going to be this time, or it’s going to be next time. So, come get your sandbags, clear out any irrigation in your property, talk to your neighbors on any neighbors that might need help during the flash flooding,” Costello urged, adding, “And we just would rather be safe than sorry, so we are getting ahead and just always trying to prepare.”

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Cedar City ready for flash flood danger