Emergency managers update flood response preparations as more storms line up

Mar 17, 2023, 10:37 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — With more storms lining up next week, state emergency managers met during a call Friday to update and coordinate plans for flood preparations and response while looking ahead at the areas of greatest risk over the next two weeks.

Forecasters were keeping a closer eye on parts of Box Elder and Cache counties, the Ogden and Heber valleys, and sections of southern Utah as approaching rains once again threatened to bring the potential of sheet flooding.

Emergency managers acknowledged, though, that at this time of year, flooding could surface practically anywhere under the right circumstances.

“We just have to be prepared for everything,” said Angela Lang, response coordination bureau chief with the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management.

Lang said the Division of Emergency Management and Utah Department of Transportation had been working to obtain 1.5 million sandbags to distribute when they are needed by local and tribal partners.

“This is an unprecedented year, and we’re treating it as such and we really want to take the stance, at the governor’s charge, to ‘lean forward,’” Lang said. “Personally, I would be more surprised if we didn’t see any statewide flooding than if we did, and that’s why we’re taking this urgent approach to get ready now.”

During the call, emergency managers also discussed the implementation of an executive order from Gov. Spencer Cox that gives state employees eight hours of administrative leave to volunteer where there is a local flooding response need.

Gov. Cox issues executive order allowing state employees to help with flooding

While the areas of greatest immediate risk were elsewhere, flooding was on the mind of those at Murray Park — a place that had seen its share of flooding in the past.

Laura Pace said she had watched in recent days as Little Cottonwood Creek, which runs through the park, sported higher water levels.

“Two days ago, it was only a foot away from the bridge,” she said. “I thought, ‘oh, you know, it’s going to flood soon,’ but it didn’t because they lowered it.”

Pace said she was worried about what might be to come in southern Utah, and she saw the wisdom behind all the preparation in the state.

“Oh, it definitely is going to flood,” Pace said. “Anytime we have this kind of a big snowpack, it’s just a matter of time, and make sure that you’re ready for it.”

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Emergency managers update flood response preparations as more storms line up