Federal disaster aid approved for Washington County floods

Published: Friday, Dec. 21 2012 1:09 p.m. MST

Residents in Santa Clara work to clean up after flood waters broke the dike Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal relief is coming to water-damaged areas of Santa Clara hit by a torrential rainstorm and failure of an earthen dam in mid-September.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday it is authorizing payments of more than $1 million in aid so far for damage caused in the Sept. 11 flood.

Payments will help local government agencies offset the cost of emergency measures that were taken in the flood, removal of debris and repairs to damaged roads and water systems.

FEMA officials said the money covers 75 percent of the nearly $1.5 million in costs incurred when the Laub Retention Dam gave way after a week of heavy rains. Some 30 projects needing attention were identified by Washington County, the Tuacahn Art Center, and the cities of Ivins, LaVerkin, Santa Clara, St. George and Washington.

The financial assistance does not include the repairs to the dam, which will also be reimbursed by the federal agency. It's estimated the amount of aid will double after the dam repairs are completed, with costs being finalized in the spring.

Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency about a week after the failure of the earthen dam, which was holding back Laub Pond. More than 60 homes and 18 businesses were damaged with mud and water, along with roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure. It's estimated that the area suffered $3.8 million in damage to public infrastructure.

"The Santa Clara flood shows that flooding can happen anywhere," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Gary Stanley. "It's a reminder to all of us to be aware of what emergencies and disasters are possible and to be prepared for them, even when their likelihood seems remote."

A team of officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Division of Emergency Management and FEMA have been working out of the Santa Clara Town Hall to coordinate disaster aid, but that office is scheduled to close down Friday.

Additional coordination will continue from Salt Lake City state offices and FEMA's office in Denver.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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