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Flood Watch Continues as Snowpack Melts

Flood Watch Continues as Snowpack Melts

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Jed Boal ReportingFlood watch continues across the state as communities prepare for the possibility of high water. Right now several rivers in Southern Utah are running high, but there is no flood danger yet.

The low elevation and mid-elevation snow is melting off; the high elevation snowpack hasn't started to run off. Streams and rivers are swift right now and communities are getting ready in case water washes over their banks.

The Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers are running higher than usual, but the channels are holding. Elsewhere in the state it’s the same story, but peak run-off has yet to arrive. So state emergency managers wait and prepare.

Derek Jensen, Utah Division of Emergency Services: "You never quite know with Mother Nature, but we're making sure there are resources in place. We're making sure we're ready in our office and in constant contact with local agencies. If something does happen, we can act quickly."

A sandbagging machine is ready go, the other state machine is in St. George. The state also sent out 180-thousand sandbags to five locations in case any community runs out.

Salt Lake County engineers say they've been working since the floods of ‘83, every month, every year, to keep logs and debris out of the creeks and streams to keep the water flowing smoothly. County crews in much of the state are tackling the same critical task.

Brent Beardall, Salt Lake County Engineering Project Manager: "Much of our problems in ‘83 were caused by debris clogging up pipes and channels."

Since those floods the county also spent around 200-million dollars to build debris basins and detention basins to reduce the flood risk.

In Southern Utah, state and federal emergency management officials met to take a closer look at the stream channel cut by the flooding in January.

Derek Jensen, Utah Division of Emergency Services: "If more water comes, where's it going to go, how high could it get, to help us understand what could happen in the future."

And here’s a reminder from the state--flood insurance is subject to a 30-day period before it takes effect.

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