Hundreds of Utahns help fill sandbags in Salt Lake County

Apr 15, 2023, 4:49 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 4:16 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Hundreds of people spent Saturday morning filling sandbags at several volunteer sites throughout Utah.

The record snow has been causing flooding problems in many neighborhoods near Salt Lake City, prompting locals like Mike Allred and his family to help with flood prevention efforts.

“She’s having fun. She’s in the world’s largest sandbox for sure,” said Allred as he watched his daughter Braeya Allred play in the sand. “She is trying to really comprehend what is going on and where these bags are going, but she understands it’s going to help some people who need it.”

It is precisely why he wanted to bring her to Sugarhouse Park to teach her what it means to be part of a community.

“There is a ton of water,” he expressed. “We knew it was going to be a crazy season, so we wanted to come help where we can.”

Braeya Allred filling up a sandbag at Sugar House Park. (KSLTV/Mark Less)

Hundreds of volunteers showed up at the park to help fill sandbags. There were people shoveling dirt into bags, tying them, and then carrying them in a human chain to the parking lot, where a truck was taking them to another location.

So far, only three homes in Salt Lake City have flooded because of the runoff. However, with plenty of snow still in the mountains, there is a lot more water that still needs to come down.

“It’s just a chance to help out. The community would be out there helping if I needed it,” said Lance Sollid, who spent a good chunk of the morning loading sandbags into a wheelbarrow.

“We need this human power to show up, this community power, to help fill those bags, move them, and we’ll be taking them to staging areas to deploy when the runoff picks up again later this week,” added Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “This is what Salt Lakers are good at. We show up when there’s work to be done, and we get our hands dirty, and we get the job done.”

A similar event was held in Cottonwood Heights as many residents who needed sandbags came by to pick some up. Christian Carter is one of those volunteers who helped to fill 30,000 sandbags.

“I have been here a lot. I have been here for three days,” said Carter. “I just like seeing people working toward a common goal.”

Although Cottonwood Heights city leaders feel they’re prepared with areas that have flooded in the past, this year is different.

“One thing with this snowpack, there might be locations that we haven’t seen flooding in the past,” said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers.

It’s a big reason why cities and counties across Utah are storing as many sandbags as possible, as they believe runoff is just beginning.

“We’re hoping that Mother Nature cooperates,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “We’re prepared and ready to respond, and great people out working.”

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Hundreds of Utahns help fill sandbags in Salt Lake County