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Canal company begins taking claims for damage caused by breach

Published: Monday, April 29 2013 2:40 p.m. MDT

Disaster cleanup workers carry personal items out of one of the homes as residents along Bluff Drive in Murray continue to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013, after a breached canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Disaster cleanup workers carry personal items out of one of the homes as residents along Bluff Drive in Murray continue to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013, after a breached canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

MURRAY — Residents on Monday continued the task of cleaning up the damage from a canal breach on Saturday, while canal and city officials began the process of sorting out liability and offering help to homeowners.

On Saturday, a breach of the North Jordan Canal sent a cascade of mud, rock and water into the homes along Saddle Bluff Drive. As many as eight homes were affected by the flooding, with three homes receiving substantial property damage.

On Monday, the heavy machinery and an army of volunteers from the day before had largely dissipated, replaced by family members and friends power washing mud from driveways and sorting salvageable possessions on front lawns.

Local insurance adjusters, contracted by the canal company's insurance policy holder, arrived around 11 a.m. to take preliminary assessments of the damage. Salt Lake County employees also visited homeowners to determine what type of tax relief could be offered.

Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Scott Goodman, whose home sustained the brunt of the flooding, said he spoke with the president of the North Jordan Canal Company Monday and was assured that the company was committed to helping homeowners get their lives back in order.

Since the breach, Goodman and his wife have been staying in a recreational vehicle around the corner from their home while their children stay with their grandparents.

"That's all I want is to get back to normal," Goodman said. "We're so anxious to move forward."

After a section of earth holding back the canal gave way directly behind Goodman's property, his house was flooded up to the basement ceilings. Goodman said he still doesn't know if the high water level damaged the structural integrity of his home or when, if ever, he'll be able to move his family back in.

Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Goodman's next-door neighbor Stephen Linge said he is already growing frustrated jumping through the bureaucratic hoops of insurance coverage. He said he was encouraged by the city's response to the breach, but had yet to be contacted by anyone representing the canal company.

"I would just like somebody to take responsibility and come down here," he said.

Boyd Simper, secretary and treasurer of the North Jordan Canal Company, said Sunday he was 98 percent confident the canal's insurance policy will compensate residents for the damage to their property. He said an engineer had been hired by the canal board to test the integrity of the canal and return with recommendations on how to best rebuild and avoid breaches in the future.

"He knows the urgency when we need to get those back," Simper said.

Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Murray Mayor Dan Snarr also visited the damaged properties Monday and said city officials are committed to help the affected homeowners get back on their feet.

"We’re here to help take care of getting it cleaned up and doing what we can to work through the issues of making sure the citizens are taken care of," he said. "It's just one of those unfortunate things and we're going to work our way through it."

The canal experienced several smaller leaks in the area of the breach over the last two years. At the time of those leaks, the canal company responded and shored up the weakened areas of the canal.

Simper on Sunday said the company had no indications or reason to believe a larger breach would occur. "We're dealing with Mother Nature and sometimes she does what she wants," he said.

Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Worker try to fill in the broken section of a canal in Murray as home owners along Bluff Drive try to clean up Monday, April 29, 2013 after the canal flooded homes in the area. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Contributing: Randall Jeppesen

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com Twitter: bjaminwood

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