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Murray residents plead for canal oversight following flood

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 11:51 a.m. MDT

Clark Duncan carries out wet furniture form his brother's home on Saddle Bluffs Drive Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Clark Duncan carries out wet furniture form his brother's home on Saddle Bluffs Drive Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

MURRAY — Three days after a failed canal filled her basement to the ceiling with mud and water, Jessica Goodman's home was ruled uninhabitable.

Hours later, she told the Murray City Council her concern is no longer for her ruined house or lost wedding dress. Now, she worries about the safety of families on her street.

"This canal situation is not safe for anyone," Goodman said Tuesday, weeping quietly. "Basements can be fixed, I get that. … We're moving on to, 'Is this a safe place for our kids?'"

Goodman and her husband are currently living in an RV in a neighbor's driveway, while their children stay with relatives.

Residents attended Tuesday's meeting seeking answers after the canal breach flooded eight homes on Saddle Bluff Drive on Saturday, seriously damaging three of them, including the Goodman residence.

Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, and two representatives from the North Jordan Canal Co. also attended the meeting.

Some residents took an openly accusatory tone, citing mismanagement by the canal company, while others thanked city leaders and law enforcement for sending "everything but the snowplows" to help clean up Saturday's flood.

John Dye introduced himself as a resident of "Saddle Bluff Creek," as the street in the Murray Bluffs neighborhood has been nicknamed.

Speaking on behalf of a group of residents, Dye thanked volunteers, many of whom were strangers, for their labor and donations in the first days of the crisis before asking, "Where do we go now?"

Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The group proposed a joint task force be formed to evaluate canal safety and management, and requested that concerned residents be part of the group, along with city officials and representatives from North Jordan Canal.

The City Council voiced unanimous support for the task force and agreed to begin drafting a formal resolution to create one.

Dye asked the council to consider a Logan mother and two young children who were killed in their home in July 2009 when a canal failed and a massive mudslide hit with such force it knocked the house off its foundation.

"How can we sleep at night knowing something similar could happen to us? Our homes are sacred places," he said.

In response to concerns and accusations about how the canal was managed, Boyd Simper, a Murray resident and secretary/treasurer of the North Jordan Canal Co., eventually stood to "dispel a few myths."

Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Homeowners, friends and neighbors clean up in Murray Sunday, April 28, 2013, where several homes on Saddle Bluffs Drive were flooded Saturday when a canal breached. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Simper asserted the company regularly tests the canal and has several overflow structures in place. However, once the flow is diverted, remaining water will inevitably continue downstream until the canal is empty, he said.

"We want to make sure that all the people are made whole," Simper said, assuring that insurance is in place to cover the damage while the company carefully evaluates canal safety.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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