PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — Provo city crews say they are clearing debris from the Provo River and monitoring frontal canyons as they take a preventive approach to record-breaking snowfall which will eventually turn into an unpredictable spring runoff.
“Unusually high snowpack during a cold, wet spring leads to the potential of sudden high temperatures creating flooding conditions. That is our worst-case scenario,” said Public Works Director Dave Decker.
But which areas in Provo have the highest risk of potential flooding?
Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and Decker say while a majority of the water from spring runoff will make its way into the Provo River, other areas with high flood concerns include Provo’s frontal canyons: Rock Canyon, Slate Canyon and Little Rock Canyon.
“It is very likely we will see flooding on the Provo River,” Decker said. “Residents will see a lot of city crew activity as they clear out dead trees and sand and gravel bars to maximize capacity in the river. This is a vital flood preparation component for Provo.”
Provo residents can pick up a bundle of 25 sandbags at the Public Works building, but they have to bring their shovels to fill the bags with sand. There are reportedly about 200,000 sandbags available for pickup.
“Localized flooding may occur due to saturated soils,” said city officials. “Property owners should look at their own properties and address low areas that may cause flooding to buildings.”
During the 1984 Provo flooding, over 90,000 sandbags made up the Slate Canyon channel, which has two vehicular bridges and eight pedestrian bridges. It reportedly took 1,455 volunteers over 3,770 hours to construct the channel, officials said.
As a proactive measure, residents are advised to periodically clear their storm drains and gutters around their homes and remove any waste or garbage immediately.
Decker says officials have developed routes with a planned process to divert floodwaters to protect residents and neighborhoods.
“We are planning and coordinating with internal and external agencies to prepare for any type of flood emergency, protecting areas with the biggest flood risk, and helping to prepare at-risk residents.”