Utah, Provo officials prepare for spring flooding

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A storm drain on Provo’s Center Street is blocked as this Spring heats up. Provo City prepares for the spring runoff that could cause potential flooding throughout the community. (Joshua Rust)

Provo City released a flood plan for the city in light of the potentially record-breaking spring runoff from the 150%, and rising, snowpack levels this year.

On March 16 Dave Decker, the Provo City Public Works director, outlined the city-wide flood plan.

“We are identifying areas with the biggest flood risk and developing routes to divert water to protect the residents and homes,” Decker said.

Various work crews are currently clearing storm drains and the Provo river of debris that could contribute to flooding. Some Provo residents, like BYU economics professor John Stovall, are most worried about flooding in downtown areas and not the residential areas at higher elevations.

40 years ago, after record-breaking September rain, Utah County experienced major flooding.

“Since the last major flood 40 years ago, Provo has been improving its stormwater system as the city continues to grow and develop,” Decker said.

Provo residents can help the flood prevention efforts by keeping storm drains clear of debris and notifying the city of any blocked drains.

Sandbags will also be available for residents to pick up at designated locations to help divert significant flooding in case of emergency.

Orem resident Richard Heaps volunteered at the Red Cross as a clinical psychiatrist during various serious floods throughout the U.S. and shared his thoughts on the current situation.

“Part of the answer to prevent flooding is a community and a governmental response dealing with what they might anticipate as potential flood threats. If the community or government deals with those things, they can reduce flooding, but there’s only so much that can be done,” Heaps said.

Governor Cox also signed an executive order on March 16 to allow state employees administrative leave for “flood mitigation efforts.”

Governor Cox tweeted about Executive Order 2023-03 on March 16. The order allows state officials to take leave to assist in flood relief in their communities. (@GovCox via Twitter)

The Governor emphasized Utah’s excellent track record for volunteerism and called on the state officials and community members to continue this tradition in the face of potential flooding.

The state government continues to collaborate with local administrations across the state to ensure that each area has a flood plan.

The Utah state government and Provo flood information websites warn citizens, “Flooding is the most common natural disaster in Utah” and citizens should be prepared for prevention measures and with flood insurance.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also provides resources for families to use in case of emergency and outline disaster plans specific to the Utah area.

Church officials recommend emergency or “72-hour” kits for quick departure from disaster areas and a written plan that all family members are aware of.

Residents who are concerned about their homes and insurance can also visit the Utah Current Incidents map to check on flooding conditions in their area.

The “Flood Facts” campaign raises awareness about flooding and flood insurance. Some Provo residents may be underinsured, according to statistics done by the Utah Departments of Public Safety and Emergency Management. (Flood Facts)
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