FEMA officials assess spring flood damage in Utah

Published: Sunday, July 24 2011 10:51 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have visited 18 Utah counties to assess the extent of spring flood damage and to determine whether they qualify for federal disaster relief funds.

Utah Division of Emergency Management spokesman Joe Dougherty told The Herald Journal of Logan that Utah had an estimated total of $12.7 million in infrastructure damage as a result of flooding between April and this month.

That's $9 million over the minimum amount needed for the state to request a presidential disaster declaration, he said.

If President Barack Obama issues the declaration, the federal government would pay 75 percent of all eligible costs, and local and state government would cover 25 percent of the costs.

The state agency will draft a letter for Gov. Gary Herbert to send to Obama requesting the declaration. It could take weeks or months before action is taken on the request.

A record snowpack in the mountains and extremely wet spring caused some rivers and streams in the state to flood, damaging homes, yards, roads, bridges and farmlands.

Particularly hard hit were the Cache County cities of Logan and Providence, which have requested emergency declarations. FEMA officials this week visited Providence, where Spring Creek flooding wiped out the town's Center Street.

"I'm hopeful that we will (get relief)," Providence City administrator Skarlet Bankhead told The Herald Journal. "The amount of gravel was very impressive to them (FEMA). They were very complimentary on how we tried to handle it."

Logan River flooding left parts of a Logan golf course under water and looking for a financial lifeboat. The river that runs along parts of the course was breached in mid-June and water came rushing onto the course. In some spots, it was waist deep.

According to Utah officials, the snowmelt-related threat now is gone in Utah, but the potential for flash flooding remains.

Earlier this year, state officials worried that they were facing the perfect storm for disastrous flooding. But cooler than normal temperatures through mid-June kept flooding to a minimum, they said.

FEMA officials visited the Ute-Ouray tribe in eastern Utah as well as the 18 Utah counties.

— Associated Press

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