City’s response to flooding saves some Utah residents their homes

Local News

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Davis County was just one of many hit hard by the rain last night. In Bountiful, an inch-and-a-half fell in a few hours. City leaders credit an emergency response team, made up of city employees and volunteers, for helping many homeowners avoid flood damage.

On Monday, city leaders assessed damage across the Bountiful after flooding occurred in many neighborhoods across the city Sunday night.

On 1800 South, one sidewalk caved in on itself. The sidewalk now sits around two feet lower than it should and part of the road is closed off as it is now unstable. According to Bountiful City Engineer Lloyd Cheney, this collapsed sidewalk is one of the only instances of flood damaged that surprised city leaders.

Across town near the intersection of 650 North and 700 East, a culvert sits with just a small of water running through it. That was not the case Sunday night.

Cheney says this was possibly one of the worst areas for flooding during the storm. A pair of homeowners who live right across the street from the culvert say just before 10 p.m., the city showed up to unclog the culvert as it was running over onto the road. The homeowners tell ABC4 the city cut their fence in order to allow the water to run down to the field below their backyard. If they hadn’t done this, debris would have created a dam along the fence and may have resulted in the home flooding.

City leaders say they were able to send employees across the city to deal clogged storm drains, culverts, and flooding streets thanks, in part, to the emergency response team.

“It takes the best impact that we can have from government and pairs it with, again, the best impact from the volunteers to achieve the best result from the entire community,” Bountiful Assistant Chief of Police Dave Edwards explains.

Edwards says when disasters happen, preparedness districts across the city jump into action. The districts are made up of thousands of volunteers city-wide and work hand-in-hand with law enforcement when called in.

“That accounts for sections of the city which (is broken) down into small areas all the way down to individual homes regardless of faith,” Edwards states. “Each individual home is accounted for.”

Edwards says the districts are based off boundaries of local stakes from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

During events like Sunday’s storm, the police station’s command center grows — police and volunteers ready to jump in when needed.

When 911 calls come in, city officials take care of clearing streets and preventing wide-spread flooding while the preparedness districts take care of helping residents through the network of volunteers spread out city-wide.

“Our volunteer emergency operation center contacted the preparedness districts they were immediately able to field 30 to 50 people who were filling sandbags, loading them on trucks, and delivering them direct, right to the homes where they are needed,” explains Edwards. He tells ABC4 he believes this team effort helped prevent flooding in many homes.

However, there was no way to keep all homes from being damaged during the storm. He adds, “We know of 12 to 15 that were reported as flooding inside their homes. We know there were many more as we hear that anecdotally today.”

For homeowners who need additional sandbags, Edwards asks them to reach out to the street department at the city by calling (801) 298-6175.

Edwards tells ABC4 that city leaders were worried damage would end up much worse than it did. He says, “We were really concerned about our burn scar from our fire a couple years ago on our east bench, but those same preparedness districts had placed thousands of sandbags there in preparation for a potential storm like we had last night, and it was extremely effective in mitigating any damage that we had from the burn scar area.”

Cheney tells ABC4 even the best storm drains can’t keep up with the amount of rain that fell Sunday. He says Bountiful is prone to occasionally have these types of large storms, and for that reason, the city has its emergency response team in place.

Cheney says crews will spend the next few days cleaning debris from roads. He tells ABC4 that in the Stone Creek area, there is a drainage basin. He says it was hit hard with debris during the storm. The city will go in and start clearing the area when it has dried up.

Edwards says volunteers filled between 600 and 800 sandbags Sunday night. They filled more bags than needed in preparation for the next big storm.

Cheney says it will take a few weeks to fix all road, curb, and sidewalk damage across the city because they will have to hire contractors to do the work.

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