Provo invites volunteers to fill 100K sandbags in anticipation of spring runoff

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Provo city workers, residents and companies have filled roughly 44,000 sandbags in preparation for this year’s spring runoff out of a goal of 100,000 sandbags.

Provo received 1,500 tons of sand, which was donated by Geneva Rock. Joseph Gandy, public relations analyst for Provo, said they will need more sand to reach their goal.

With two four-hour shifts of 80 volunteers can fill close to 10,000 sandbags in a single day. More than 350 volunteers signed up to help. “The residents of Provo have really stepped up to the plate,” Gandy said.

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Provo resident Lochsley Allred joined in the efforts to fill sandbags with her friend, Crystal Blodgett. “This is a great way to hang out with a friend,” Allred said. “It hasn’t been as backbreaking as I thought it would be.” Allred said her husband is planning on coming to fill sandbags on Friday, taking turns to help the city while keeping an eye on their toddler.

Volunteers filled sandbags with shovels, placing bags under upside-down traffic cones and dumping the sand inside to help the bags hold their shape. With this system, Blodgett estimated that she would be able to fill 25 bags in an hour by herself. Having a friend doubled their output to 50 bags in an hour. “They have a nice system in place,” Blodgett said.

On the other side of the yard, a compact utility loader filled a hopper with sand to help mechanize the process. The hopper allowed residents to fill bags up quickly, but not as many volunteers could use it at a time. Several employees of SGFusion Living, a property management company based in Provo, and Blackfish Investments, a real estate investment company based in Provo, helped fill bags from the hopper.

Teresa Cope, manager of human resources at SGFusion Living, said that their company used to own an apartment complex in Provo that had issues with flooding in the past. This year, Cope said the city has “done a really good job preparing” for flooding. The sandbags, as Cope puts it, are “just in case.”

Danica Rose, marketing specialist for Blackfish Investments, said that it is good to be prepared for the upcoming runoff. “I think they’re doing a really great job,” Rose said. “It’s been set up really well, and well organized.”

As the weather warms and the snow begins to melt, Gandy cautioned people to be careful around the Provo River. “As the flows increase, the river will become increasingly dangerous,” Gandy said, “so we want to encourage people to keep a safe distance away from the river, especially kids and pets.”

Provo residents can take home up to 25 sandbags to protect their homes, placing the bags near windowsills and lower entryways. With over 114,000 residents living in Provo, those sandbags will go quickly. “We could always use more volunteers,” Gandy said.

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