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FEMA workers tour Utah communities hit by spring flooding

Jul 27, 2023, 10:14 PM | Updated: 10:49 pm

KAYSVILLE, Utah — It’s still hard to believe for Kaysville resident Josh Belnap, even though he saw it with his own eyes.

“Yeah. Those first few days, I think everybody was just trying to wrap their head around it,” Belnap said.

Belnap is Kaysville’s public works director. He’s talking about Orchard Ridge Lane in a newer neighborhood closer to the Wasatch Mountains.

In April, heavy spring runoff eroded the dirt underneath the road, causing it to buckle, and forcing families nearby to evacuate their homes. Utilities, water pipes, and other cables were damaged, as well as sidewalks, driveways, and the road itself.

Belnap credits the developer, Ivory Homes, for helping to get things repaired quickly.

“It could’ve drug on for a long, long time,” he said. “But they diverted a lot of their crews and resources to help get the neighborhood back going and help take care of the homeowners. Some of them had just moved into their homes.”

Kaysville says it could be months before damage is repaired from flooding

Now, Kaysville City leaders are wondering if there was enough damage to get some federal money to help pay for repairs.

“The big question is what’s going to count as eligible? But there’s certainly interest there,” Belnap said.

It’s a question the Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to answer. This week, FEMA assessors are going out with Utah’s Division of Emergency Management members to look at places damaged by flooding to see if Utah qualifies for federal money.

“They have selected three counties. We had sixteen counties that had damages, but due to time constraints, due to staffing, they’re really focusing on the large dollar amount damages and representative damage, which is what some of the other damage would look like,” said Janna Wilkinson, a Resilience Bureau Chief with Utah’s Division of Emergency Management.

Before the repairs. (KSL TV) After the repairs. (Jack Grim/KSL TV)

Those three counties FEMA is visiting in person are Salt Lake, Utah, and Wasatch. The threshold to meet is $5.8 million in damage to public infrastructure before Utah could qualify for a disaster declaration which would bring in federal dollars.

“Oftentimes when we have disaster events, we’re never quite sure, we think we might be at the thresholds, but we have to verify a lot of that and work with them to say yeah, this falls into FEMA’s wheelhouse, and this doesn’t,” Wilkinson said.

It’s what Kaysville is waiting for, to see if the state meets the threshold for FEMA assistance, and, if so, if some of that money will come to Kaysville.

Even if it doesn’t, Belnap said the repairs had to be done anyway.

“We kind of went into that assuming the worst case. Let’s assume we never get any of this back. It still has to happen and we were happy to get those repairs done,” Belnap said. “It is a totally different place up there. The repairs and how quickly they have been able to make those has been nothing short of a miracle.”

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FEMA workers tour Utah communities hit by spring flooding