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Cedar City braces for more rain as it recovers from flash floods

Sandbags protected homes and businesses from Monday’s flooding.

(Cinder Player | Special to The Tribune) Heavy rains flooded the bottom floor of an apartment building and impacted Cedar City and surrounding areas Monday, July 28, 2021.

Cedar City • After seeing streets filled as deep as a river, Dylan Folks, 18, is filling sandbags for his community in order to stay safe during this summer’s monsoon season. The National Weather Service forecasts more heavy rain Friday, after a massive storm Monday required a declaration of emergency for the city and for the rest of Iron County.

“I’m pretty sure there will be another storm on Friday,” Folks said. “Everybody has sandbags. I think we are pretty prepared now.”

Folks lives in a neighborhood that saw water as deep as three to nine feet, with some citizens here requiring evacuation to the Red Cross shelter near downtown.

Some homes had their basements flooded or were damaged by torrents of mud. On Wednesday, water was still being suctioned out of basements at homes off Cross Hallow Road. “We are kind of living in a weird time,” added Folks, who has been filling bags with family at the Cedar City Public Works building, one of two locations where people can make sandbags to mitigate any flooding.

On the Southern Utah University campus, about 100 students had to vacate their off-campus apartments, and are now taking refuge in the residence halls of SUU, says Heather Ogden, dean of students and students’ affairs.

(Cinder Player | Special to The Tribune) Heavy rains caused flooding and impacted Cedar City and surrounding areas Monday, July 28, 2021.

“On Monday night, I was out at the University West complex, with students helping them try to salvage some of their belongings,” Ogden said. “The students on the bottom floor lost everything in their apartment. So, it was devastating.”

Ogden added that the university is also offering case management resources to students who have mental and health care needs. On behalf of the student body, Ogden is appreciative of the community efforts, particularly the university’s football and gymnastics teams, which filled over 1,600 sandbags for community use.

For those wanting to help SUU students with any relief, she says donations are being accepted under the T-Bird Strong Fund.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Edwards says the city continues to have emergency management crews out assessing the infrastructure and damage caused by the flooding. She says that preliminary reports from Monday’s flooding indicate that there was about two inches of rain in the first hour of the storm.

“There have been different floods at different times. This one was different from some of the others that we have experienced,” Edwards said, adding that climate change is also a factor especially when soil is dry and hard. All of which, she says, created the flash flooding. She encourages the public to take precautions, such as finding time to make sandbags. Both the city and county set-up storm FEMA reporting systems for citizens impacted by the recent storm that needs disaster relief.

One of those citizens grateful for the relief is Katie Miller, whose basement off Cross Hallow Road was filled with water. She estimates that she and her husband will likely pay thousands to fix their yard and basement, which was still being suctioned out with a vacuum Wednesday afternoon.

“People have brought clothes and shoes and they’ve given us beds and bedding,” Miller said, before adding, “It’s been a crazy, a really emotional, amazing experience” with the community donations and relief.

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