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The City Journals

Not going under: Flood preparation

May 02, 2017 10:51AM ● By Cassie Goff

Sandbags stacked to prevent local natural flooding. (Cottonwood Heights City)

By Cassie Goff  [email protected]
As the chill of winter progressively melts away and the promise of summer lies just beyond the blossoming tulips, the worry of natural flooding laps at the edge of resident driveways.
Within the city of Cottonwood Heights, there are many problem areas for flooding. Toward the south end of the city, a creek runs through a number of neighborhoods. This is one of the frequent culprits for flooding, threatening unwelcome circumstances for the homeowners.
Assistant Emergency Manager Mike Halligan has been hard at work preparing for anticipated flooding. The city experienced more snowfall than normal this year, making pitch-point areas especially concerning for him.
With the help of volunteers and city staff, two sandbag filling stations have been set up along Creek Road. If flooding becomes threatening and more than the two stations are needed, they can expand.
The stations were set up “on ease of location and logistics. Sandbags can be distributed to neighborhoods quickly,” Halligan said.
Twenty thousand biodegradable sandbags have been purchased. Between the two locations, it is estimated that 100 sandbags can be filled about every 10 minutes.
“We can get a couple years out of what we have as long as we have a place to store it,” Halligan said — as long as the flooding this year doesn’t turn disastrous.
“Late May could be the problem,” Halligan said, after looking through the history of flooding within the city.
As of early March, many residents had called into the city concerned about potential flooding.
“When we fill in the creek, we call in the county. But we can help residents with window seals and other issues,” Halligan said.
Luckily, when a sandbag is stacked in place, it doesn’t leave. They are typically not hauled off to be reused because as soon as “the bags have exposure to sunlight, they don’t have a long shelf life. So we don’t ask for them back once they are put out,” Public Works Director Matt Shipp said.
“We have a plan for flooding,” Halligan said reassuringly.  “It’s all ready to go.”