Several communities in Northern Utah and Southeast Idaho have been besieged by floodwaters that just won’t subside. Thursday, Garland City Mayor Todd Miller declared a state of emergency after hundreds of homes in his community have been affected by over-saturated ground and rising ground water.
The mayor and Garland City Council activated the Emergency Operations Center Wednesday evening where a special meeting was held to gather information about problem areas throughout their city.
According to the mayor’s declaration, Public Works crews have been working around the clock to alleviate water damage in the city and upstream sites to minimize damage. Dumpsters are being placed throughout the community to allow citizens to dispose of debris.
The mayor also encourages members of his community who use septic tanks to “minimize (their) water usage as the high ground water levels may be compromising drainage fields.” He also reminds residents to pump ground water into storm drains or into fields and not into the city sewer system.
Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox toured the county by helicopter Wednesday, assessing the damage. He also participated in a press conference with other county and city officials.
“The city recognizes the contributions of the countless volunteers who are working to help their neighbors,” the mayor’s release states. According to Box Elder County Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel, the community has experienced an overwhelming response from volunteers.
Salt Lake County has sent 12 public works employees for two days to alleviate some of the demand on Box Elder County employees, the county has received 8,000 sand bags from Salt Lake City over the last few days. Additionally, another 10,000 sandbags were filled and distributed with the help of the Utah National Guard and other local volunteers.
Zundel says the Utah National Guard has been filling 500-600 sandbags an hour but are expected to conclude their service Thursday.
Zundel says more volunteers are not needed at this time. Currently, the county is running 13 pumps that are 6″ or larger and 10 smaller pumps 24 hours a day, with six more pumps on the way to help move ground water out of the most affected areas.
The Red Cross is actively helping residents who have been displaced from their homes and to help provide emergency care. The Red Cross will also be organizing another Multi-Agency Resource Center on Saturday, February 25 from 4-7 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Garland City Offices (72 North Main, Garland). Not only will the Red Cross be participating, but also other non-profit and faith-based organizations whose purpose is to help people in the time of an emergency.
Zundel says trained caseworkers will be available to help affected homeowners create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate assistance for their specific disaster-caused needs.
There is some hope on the horizon as cooler temperatures are expected in the forecast over the next several days, which should slow the snow melt and onslaught of groundwater.