GARDEN CITY, Utah (ABC4) — The town of Garden City is now under a state of emergency as a result of flooding. The mayor is pleading with people who own second homes in the town to make a trip to Garden City and prepare their homes for flooding before it’s too late.   

Water rushes into a storm drain along Bear Lake Blvd in Garden City. The water runs under the street and races into Bear Lake. This is just one of many along the iconic road that wraps around the Carribean of the Rockies. The town is surrounded by white-capped mountains. High spring temperatures are causing the snow to melt quickly, and flooding is popping up across the area.  

“Had that pipe broken, we would have sent dirt and mud, basically a mudslide, down into these homes,” Mayor Mike Leonhardt told ABC4 while pointing up to a canal that sits up on the western bench and runs the length of the town. After declaring a state of emergency Sunday, the mayor (and the town as a whole) got to work digging ditches that run from the canal, down the mountains, and into storm drains. Leonhardt said that had that not done this, the flooding could have been devastating. Sadly, he said, this is only the beginning.  

“When you have everyone living here it’s easier to communicate with people and let them know we have some issues,” stated Leonhardt. “Let’s be proactive.” He explained that 60 days ago he started a campaign to try to get those who have second homes in Garden City to come out and secure their property. Now, he is pleading they take action this week. “We knew this was coming,” he added referring to flooding thanks to record-breaking winter storms.  

According to the mayor, 75 to 80 percent of residences in town are vacation homes or short-term rentals. With less than 1,000 full-time residents, resources are limited, and the town has to focus on protecting infrastructure first.   

“This is a winter like we’ve never seen before,” said Ken Hansen. He’s lived in Garden City his entire life. His family helped establish the area generations ago. At one time, he was even the mayor. He told ABC4 that he used to joke with people that as the oldest person in town, only he could complain about harsh winters. Now, he said, everyone is on the same page.  

“There’s still a tremendous amount of snow still left in the mountains,” Hansen said. He, like most people in town, is at least a little worried about what is in store over the coming weeks. “We really don’t know what to expect because we’ve never seen this much snow and this kind of snow with as much water content as we’re seeing.”  

The mayor said the town is keeping up with flooding right now. However, he doesn’t believe that will be the case next week as things continue to thaw out. Leonhardt added: “It’s five degrees warmer today than it was yesterday and that five degrees is going to push more water down the mountain.”  

Again, he asks those with second homes to visit their property this week and get it prepared for flooding. Be proactive. “Please come up and check on it. Help us be proactive to save life, property, and damage.”  

The town has 14,000 sandbags ready to be used. It has pallets of sand ready to be bagged. Surrounding communities have reached out and offered any additional supplies. Now, Leonhardt said, it’s time for people who own homes in the area to do their part.  

Along with prepping their property for flooding, the mayor asks homeowners to sign up for CodeRed alerts which will give them the latest information from the town on flooding conditions.