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State of emergency declared in Salt Lake County as flooding hits Sugar House

Apr 13, 2023, 12:57 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2023, 6:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Wasatch Front has seen a roller coaster of weather with record a snowpack followed by record high temperatures within days. Late Wednesday, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson declared a state of emergency due to the flooding caused by spring runoff.

“I’m so grateful to the neighbors who stood arm in arm with Salt Lake County Flood Control and Salt Lake City crews to protect homes. Our teams are working around the clock to clear debris, manage flows, and protect our community,” Wilson said.

The declaration allows the county to mobilize all available resources for flood conditions, which includes deployment of emergency response teams, increased staffing, and using specialized equipment to protect the residents and property in the county.

It also allows the county access to additional resources from the state and federal government.

“With the increased amount of runoff we have experienced the last couple of days in Emigration Creek,  our crews continue to divert water down a local street into a storm drain to keep the water flowing,  limiting flooding to the roadway, with our residents’ safety top of mind,” said Salt Lake County’s  Flood Control Director Kade Moncur.“Our teams are continuing to work 24/7 to address the conditions as they continue to evolve.”

In Sugar House near 1700 South and 1500 East, neighbors are working together to irrigate the runoff with sandbags. 

Maiya Smith and Tyler Thorne are getting a front row seat to the flooding as they are watching it out their front window.

“This is absolutely wild,” said Smith. 

On Wednesday, they watched the water rushing down their street.

Floods across Utah have brought neighbors together to build walls of sand bags to irrigate the rushing waters down the street. (KSL TV) Floods across Utah have brought neighbors together to build walls of sand bags to irrigate the rushing waters down the street. (KSL TV) Floods across Utah have brought neighbors together to build walls of sand bags to irrigate the rushing waters down the street. (KSL TV) Floods across Utah have brought neighbors together to build walls of sand bags to irrigate the rushing waters down the street. (KSL TV) Floods across Utah have brought neighbors together to build walls of sand bags to irrigate the rushing waters down the street. (KSL TV)

“This was almost like a fountain or geyser that was shooting up in the air,” said Thorne. 

Hundreds of volunteers on Wednesday made their way to the area to help pile up a wall of sandbags. There are resources across the state for residents to get sandbags to mitigate flooding as needed.

Worried about flooding? Where you can get sandbags to help with possible Utah floods

“If this river would have kept going up, I was worried the water would make it’s way into the basement,” said Brian Roberts. He said he has lived in the area his whole life. “This is my duplex… my tenants are over there,” said Roberts.

He remembers the 1983 flooding, and said the streets then do not look like they do now. That is, before any more rain and or snow comes along.

Thankfully, according to city leaders, the quarter inch of moisture we get is not likely to heavily impact the flow that is already going on.

“If you do not have business in this area, please, please, please stay away,” said Clint Mecham, the Salt Lake County Emergency Management Director. 

Gov. Spencer Cox stated during a presser that the flood conditions are just the beginning, and he expects the conditions to continue for at least two months and encourages people to prepare for what might come.

Gov. Cox, state officials address flood mitigation efforts as floodwaters hit Utah neighborhoods

He recommends using a government-provided map that shows risk assessment and includes tools for outreach and support. Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) is a Federal Emergency Management Agency Program that provides flood information, tailored to the needs of each community and may provide different products and services.

Areas along Red Butte Creek, Emigration Creek, City Creek, Big Cottonwood Creek, Little Cottonwood Creek, and Millcreek are at the highest risk of spring runoff flooding caused by this year’s record-breaking snowpack, according to a press release from Salt Lake County concerning the state of emergency.

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State of emergency declared in Salt Lake County as flooding hits Sugar House