While there is potential for serious flooding with most of the State's snowpack yet to melt, Governor Gary R. Herbert says Utah's network of emergency response personnel and resources is ready. "Utah's emergency management team of state, county and local personnel and resources is about as well-prepared as possible to battle flooding statewide. While we can't control Mother Nature, we will do all we can to protect life and property," the Governor said.
"With record spring precipitation and a compressed window for runoff, Utah could face additional widespread flooding. My key message is 'Be Ready, Utah,'" said the Governor, referring to the State's website for disasters: BeReadyUtah.gov. "Temperatures are on their way up and the water is on its way down the mountains. We are doing all we can to make sure Utah is ready." Right now, Utah emergency management is at a Status II level, but the Governor has directed all resources and agencies to be prepared if the State moves to Status III.
While viewing flooded land in West Weber on Tuesday, the Governor asked local residents and leaders what the State could do to help protect property from further damage and received a request for assistance to clear a diversion canal known as the Little Weber drainage channel. In response, the Governor authorized $25,000 in assistance to Weber County for track hoes to free the diversion canal of silt and debris, thus hopefully relieving the flow in other water ways and mitigating flooding. Project estimates detail possibly saving $3.5 million in direct farm losses and over $10 million in homes.
The Governor also directed the Department of Natural Resources to return and deepen a planned breach of dikes adjacent to the Ogden Bay Bird Refuge to further relieve swollen Weber River channels.
Earlier this week the Governor toured flooded areas of Morgan and Weber counties, both by air and on the ground. Following an in-depth planning meeting with state officials with the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah National Guard, as well as the National Weather Service and Weber Basin Conservancy District, the Governor met with local officials in Weber County. His schedule includes a visit to Sevier County next week and a meeting with local officials to discuss flooding there.
In anticipation of the possible need for state financial resources, this week the Governor discussed the seriousness of the State's possible flood scenarios with the House Speaker and Senate President. He has also invited legislative leadership to tour flooded areas and offered legislators a comprehensive briefing by involved state agencies.
Additional resources are available through the State's emergency management network, including over a million sandbags, 20 sandbag filling machines throughout the state, and seven regional liaisons which interface with local agencies to prepare for emergencies, mitigate impacts and deploy state resources.
State and Weber County officials anticipate the Little Weber drainage channel project will carry flood waters farther west/northwest, away from populated areas that include homes and farms, diverting up to 1,000 cubic feet per second and averting a river bank breach. The Weber River is forecasted to flow in upwards of 6,000 cubic feet per second later this month. Currently, more than 2,000 acres of farm ground have been flooded, with another 2,000 acres, 22 homes and 68 residents at risk.