SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – (ABC 4 News) It took Herriman’s mayor under four weeks to install silt barriers and debris basins after the Machine Gun fire burned 4,300 on a mountain side above homes in 2010, according to Herriman City spokeswoman Nicole Martin.
City leaders in Saratoga Springs say red tape got in the way of similar flood mitigation efforts below the Dump Fire. Mayor Mia Love and her City Council failed to put up protections for homes in the Jacob's Ranch neighborhood about two months after the fire, which left homes vulnerable to the 100 year rain that destroyed 11 basements.
Homeowners are left with bills in the range of about $30,000 and are left to pay for the damage out-of-pocket because insurance won't cover acts of God.
Saratoga Springs City Engineer Jeremy Lapin says his City took the correct steps and acted as quickly as possible. He said water experts recommended waiting until the fall to reseed the ground, but confirmed that no major efforts to put up solid flood barriers were made after the Dump Fire.
Councilman Michael McOmber says the 100 year rain fell over the city Sept. 1, and sent a wall of rain and mud in a direct collision course with several homes. He says the City took appropriate actions. It tried to put up barriers, but private land owners west of the Jacob's Ranch neighborhood refused to allow the City to make the needed safety precautions.
However, the majority of the Saratoga Springs flood victims who talked with ABC 4 are openly criticizing U.S. Congressional Candidate Mia Love because she remains their acting mayor. They say she’s so focused on her race for a U.S. Congress seat that she's forgetting their needs.
“Now we need her to dig out the retention pond. We need her to put things in place and we need the money now and this could be such a positive experience for her and I feel like she just kind of dropped the ball. She could have done a lot more,” said flood victim, Jewel Hoffman.
Flood victim Brittney Henderson and other flood victims says they called City leaders to complain that the retention pond in the damaged neighborhood was filled with four feet of water less than 24 hours before the wall of water and mud crashed into homes, but according to Vick, the calls went unanswered and no action was taken. Neighbors say properly draining the pond could have made a difference in the devastating outcome.
ABC 4’s Noah Bond asked flood victim Brooke Vick, “What’s the answer? What should the City be doing? What should it have done?” Vick responded, “Well what they should have done is what they finally did after the flood happened.” The City immediately put in barriers to slow the flow of flood water and it dug into the earth to divert any possible water away from homes.
Bond, “Whose at fault? I know it’s a tough question. Can you answer that? Who do you think is at fault?” Vick responded, “You know I’ve had to answer that for my kids and I tell them, 'You know in life sometimes we have to deal with the consequences of other people’s choices'. It goes back to the people that started the fire. I know they feel awful, but then it’s our City’s responsibility to protect us and they should be protecting us.”