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Murray official blames Sunday flood on Mother Nature

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 2:56 p.m. MDT

Paul Hall shows flood damage from a storm drain that overflowed in front of his house in Murray on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. His bathroom needed a new vanity, new insulation, new walls, and mold treatment after the flooding.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

MURRAY — After pulling out the stops in anticipation of spring runoff flooding that never came to pass, late summer deluges have proven to be a bigger headache for public works managers.

In Murray, a storm that dumped more than 2 inches of rain in some spots of the Salt Lake Valley overwhelmed a storm drain, flooding two homes on Sunday.

"We've been checking it (the storm drain) for a month and we haven't found any problem. The only thing we can blame it on is the weather. We're getting a lot of rain in a short period of time," Doug Hill, Murray's public services director, said Monday.

While city streets are also designed as part of the storm drain system, the sudden nature of the storms that have affected Murray in the past couple of months have also overwhelmed the channeling that streets, curb and gutter can provide, he said.

However, the homes affected by Sunday's flooding have driveways that slant toward the residences, which channels water onto their property, Hill said.

This incident is unrelated to a July incident, when more than 30 homes in Murray's Walden Glen subdivision flooded when a flash flood overwhelmed a malfunctioning storm sewer drain that is part of Salt Lake County's flood control system. 

In that case, Salt Lake County accepted no legal liability but offered residents hit with the flash flood 50 cents on the dollar for consideration of their losses. The County Council voted to appropriate a total of $180,000 to cover the claims and the cost of an adjuster who reviewed residents' claims.

Both Hill and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon emphasized that Sunday's flooding was unrelated to the July incident.

"This was a very small, localized incident that affected just two homes. It doesn't have anything to do with the previous incident that happened last month," Hill said.

Said Corroon, "This was on the other side of the river, not at all related to previous flood in Murray."

Gloria Miller, a Murray resident affected by Sunday's flood, had filed a claim with Salt Lake County for the flooding in July. Her claim was rejected.

"I just want someone to fix that storm drain so it actually drains so I don't have to worry that every time it rains, that I'm going to have to come home to this. I don't believe I should have to live like this," Miller said after Sunday's flooding.

Another resident said Murray officials show up after the fact.

"Every time it rains, Murray comes down, everyone comes down, the fire department, and everyone stands around and watches the water rise," said Paul Hall.

With thunderstorms in the forecast later in the week, Murray crews are continuing to monitor the storm sewer, he said. Crews have made multiple checks for breaks and blockages but have found nothing.

"We'd like to find out why it is backing up, too," Hill said. "All we can find there is that these storm events are causing this."

Relocating the storm sewer would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. As it stands, the city has some $23 million in deferred maintenance projects.

"We try to fix them has we have funds and prior to them becoming problem areas," Hill said, adding that the city will continue to review the incident.

Contributing: Shara Park

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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