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Residents of flooded Murray subdivision offered one-time grants of $2,000

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 2 2011 6:45 p.m. MDT

MURRAY — The Salt Lake County Council has approved one-time grants of $2,000 each to assist residents of a Murray subdivision hit with a flash flood on July 26.

Residents of Walden Glen subdivision packed the council's work meeting Tuesday afternoon as the County Council mulled the best means to provide assistance to affected homeowners, rental tenants and others.

While legal representatives of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office initially determined that the county is not legally liable for any damage caused by the sudden cloudburst, several members of the County Council and Mayor Peter Corroon said they felt a moral obligation to assist the affected residents.

"I am sympathetic about their recent troubles. It is important to look at things of this type on a case-by-case basis," Corroon said. "I believe offering small grants to help offset unexpected costs is morally the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, the county also agreed to work with residents of the subdivision to further assess the damage to homes that were not already assessed by private insurance companies. Jeff Rowley, the county's risk manager, said residents say 29 homes were affected by the flood. "We suspect there may be more," Rowley said.

Rowley was expected to update the County Council on Aug. 16. "We need to set up a process that is fair, legal and agreeable to the council," he said.

As the sudden storm raged on July 26, a contractor hired by the county was in the finishing stages of repairs to a nearby culvert, therefore the pipe was not functioning to capacity.

Some residents told the County Council that repair to storm drain, which is located along 5400 South, was protracted. According to the county's timeline of events, the county received a call on May 29 that water was coming out the storm drain.

"County crews responded removed failed manhole section, with the help of Newman Construction place a trench box to hold bank and keep flow moving from one section of the failed pipe to another," the timeline said.

Over the next month, the county requested the cost of repair from Newman Construction, used an expedited process to obtain necessary approvals for the bid, related contracts as well as obtaining permission from the Utah Department of Transportation for permission to work in a right of way.

On July 26, the day of the flash flood, "Newman begins repair work completing repair of irrigation line," the timeline states.

Later in the day, "Storm occurs, runoff overwhelms trench-box, flooding homes in Walden Glen subdivision."

Linda Hamilton, the county's chief administrative officer, said the timeline explains each step of executing the repair, which was completed July 27.

"I don't think it could have been done any quicker without violating county policy," she said.

For instance, replacing the 66-inch culvert with a 72-inch concrete pipe takes time. "You can't go buy a 72-inch pipe. It has to be manufactured," she said.

The residents' timeline of events says there was no activity at repair site from May 31 until July 25.

Some residents of the area said they believed that installing a trench box as a temporary repair contributed to the flooding.

"They did not do the right fix when they did the fix," said Kerry Sanford, a resident of the subdivision.

A trench box is intended to protect workers from cave-ins as they conduct repairs to pipes, he explained. "Any engineer is going to tell you that's not going to work," Sanford said.

Sanford said damage to his home was minimal, likely about $500. But he is concerned for neighbors, some of whom experienced damages in the range of $25,000 to $35,000. "Two thousand dollars isn't going to scratch the surface," he said.

Some residents raised concerns that the repair may still be botched. One woman told the council that the strong rain storm on Monday lifted the cover off a manhole. 

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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