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[An updated report can be found here: Wasatch Hollow flooding wanes; Gov. Cox ‘certain’ flood conditions will continue in coming months]
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an emergency order late Wednesday aimed at helping the city support residents amid spring flooding.
Her signature came less than two hours after floodwaters had surged in the Wasatch Hollow area, prompting Mendenhall to call for volunteers at about 9 p.m. to help fill sandbags near 1700 East and 1700 South to mitigate damage She later signed the emergency order shortly before 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday saw a spate of flooding across the Wasatch Front, with about two dozen new homes in Kaysville being instructed to evacuate in the morning because of “significant” flooding that caused some sections of neighborhood roadway to collapse, creating holes more than 10 feet deep, according to the city.
At about 11:50 a.m., the National Weather Service also separately issued a flood advisory for Emigration Creek, near Salt Lake City’s east bench, as warmer temperatures accelerated snowmelt, prompting some street flooding. The advisory runs through about noon on Thursday.
The cause of the flooding in Kaysville, which centered on a new Ivory Homes development near Orchard Ridge Lane and Mountain Road, also appeared to be linked to accelerated snowmelt, which “inundated the city storm drain system,” according to a statement from the developer.
“The volume of the water directed at the system was beyond the capacity of that system, and as a result, the water significantly undermined these new streets,” the statement from Ivory Homes read. “No new homes have had interior water infiltration and we are grateful there has been no private property damage.”
Crews were working Wednesday to stabilize the impacted area. Together, they set up thousands of sandbags to divert running water into a shallow, quickly coursing stream, which could be seen flowing down neighborhood streets alongside sections of caved-in roadway.
Both utilities and roads in the neighborhood were “severely impacted,” according to the city.
Though some homes in the affected development remain under construction, others had been completed by the time of flooding. One couple, Kate and Jeff Harris, had just picked up their keys Tuesday, and had begun moving their belongings into their new garage Tuesday night.
“To go from such a high to such a rock bottom low — it’s pretty overwhelming,” Kate Harris said.
Another couple, Brooke and Derek Schulthies, had moved into the development about two months ago. They said the first sign of flooding came at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, when they heard the sound of rushing water.
As the roadway ultimately collapsed, they heard a huge crash: Large chunks of earth had tumbled into dumpsters that had fallen into the sinkhole that developed on half their street.
“The freakiest part was when you’re trying to sleep, and you’d hear the rumbles outside, and your entire house would shake — and then you go outside and another driveway fell off,” Derek Schulthies said.
The couple decided not to evacuate so that their son, 3-year-old Archer, could stay asleep, but the parents never managed to go back to bed.
Around 11 a.m. Wednesday, they stood outside, watching as the water flowed past their home.
The American Red Cross had initially set up an evacuation center in a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse located at 1085 N. 50 East. But by about 10 a.m., everyone who had been evacuated had found another place to stay, a spokesperson said.
Crews continued to address damage Wednesday afternoon.
“We are confident that the city will find a solution to prevent future flooding and we will work arm in arm with them until the situation is resolved,” Ivory Homes said in a statement.
Flood advisory near Salt Lake City’s east bench:
Before the weather service issued a flood advisory Wednesday for Emigration Creek, residents and volunteers had been working together since at least Sunday to set up sandbags in an effort to mitigate damage.
At Ruth’s Diner, located farther east up Emigration Canyon, restaurant staff had built a wall of sandbags to prevent the creek’s already surging water from flowing into the restaurant. On Wednesday afternoon, water could be seen trickling across the property’s pavement.
Flooding was expected to peak in the area around midnight, according to the weather service.
About 2 miles farther east up the canyon from Ruth’s, an apparent mudslide had pushed debris into one lane of Emigration Canyon Road by about 6:15 p.m. At the time, cars were still able to carefully travel up and down the roadway.
Nearby, crews were monitoring the creek’s rising flow and watching another section of land that seemed unstable as community members worked to distribute sandbags to each other into the evening.
Not far from Ruth’s Diner, Spencer Williams lifted sandbags while shirtless Wednesday at his Emigration Canyon home, which sits along the bank of the creek and was bordered on three sides by the coursing water.
“It’s the first time in 25 years I bought flood insurance,” Williams said.
He had been working since Friday to build a wall of about 200 sandbags around his home — half of which he purchased himself, and half of which the county provided.
He said he didn’t expect to get much sleep Wednesday night.
“I mean, at a certain point there’s not much you can do,” Williams said.
Wasatch Hollow flooding:
In Salt Lake City early Wednesday, 1700 South was closed between 1500 East and 1700 East as crews worked to divert water flowing through Wasatch Hollow, which operates as a detention basin, and onto the street.
Flooding in the Wasatch Hollow area had “calmed down dramatically” by Wednesday afternoon, according to Salt Lake City Fire’s emergency management department.
But by about 9 p.m., activity had kicked up, and a river of floodwater about a foot deep was running near the intersection of 1700 South and 1700 East.
Mayor Mendenhall shared a video on Twitter late Wednesday asking volunteers to help place additional sandbags in the area to better divert rushing water.
“Water is flowing, and we’ve got sandbags that we need more of, because we don’t expect the peak of the flow to reach its height until about 11 p.m.,” Mendenhall can be heard saying in the video.
Salt Lake City Fire Department medical and wellness division Chief Kyle Lavender added in the video that while sandbags had already been set up in the area, “as this water is continuing to rise, we need to add some height and width to the sandbagging area, so we’re going to be needing some people to come and help us.”
He noted that fire department crews as well as public works officials were working to help with the sandbagging effort amid the call for volunteers. Police officers were also assisting, Mendenhall said.
“It is strong enough to knock you off your feet,” Lavender said of the water flow in the area. “We don’t want anyone getting in danger or hurting themselves. We want to keep this to where we’re just protecting property and not worrying about anyone’s lives. We want your help, but let’s make sure it’s an organized effort.”
Just before 10 p.m., Mendenhall advised would-be volunteers in the area to walk to the church on 1700 East, 1700 South, noting that no one should drive to the intersection, as streets were closed.
By then, about 1,000 people were helping to divert the running water, she said. About 30 minutes later, she signed the emergency order.
“I appreciate our City and County teams for jumping into action quickly,” Mendenhall shared on Twitter, along with the emergency order announcement. “It’s an honor to see Salt Lakers come out to help one other.”
Flooding in Bountiful, North Ogden:
In Bountiful, street flooding was seen in the area of Vineyard Drive and Moss Hill Drive. The flooding was apparently caused by clogged storm drains, according to the city. No damage had been reported as of Wednesday afternoon.
In North Ogden, snowmelt had also started flowing into roadways, according to a Facebook post from the city’s public works department. The city said water began running down 1700 North as early as Wednesday morning, prompting the closure of Fruitland Drive at 1700 North.
It was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon whether the North Ogden flooding had damaged any nearby homes.
The flooding Wednesday followed an unseasonably warm Tuesday, which hastened the melting of Utah’s historic snowpack.
At one point, the high in Salt Lake City reached 83 degrees — the warmest April 11 on record. The normal high temperature for the date is 61 degrees.
The previous record-high temperature in Salt Lake City for the date was set in 1934, when it reached 80 degrees.
Temperatures in the mid-70s were recorded Wednesday, but a strong cold front was expected to move into northern Utah overnight Wednesday into Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Thursday’s highs were expected to be 15-20 degrees colder. Some rain and snow is possible.
— Tribune staffers Jacob Scholl and Trent Nelson contributed to this report.