Family Blames August Flood Damage on County's Temporary Culverts

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GUNLOCK, Utah (AP) -- Lynn and Roxanne Aplanalp's Gunlock home was first damaged by the January floods, and then was hit again by a flash flood along the Santa Clara this summer.

They believe the second flood was due to the county having installed culverts in the river that were too small.

During the January flood, water surrounded their home, which sits on the banks of the river. The water did not enter the main floor of the home, but it did get into the basement, and since January, the family has had to run a pump 24 hours a day to keep the water from their home.

The flood also washed out the bridge near the Aplanalps' home.

The county build a temporary crossing over five metal culverts.

The crossing washed out multiple times in the months following the flood, and each time, the county rebuilt it.

A flash flood occurred on Aug. 12. Large pieces of debris piled up against the 4-foot culverts in the temporary crossing, backing up the water and once again creating a lake around the Aplanalp home, Lynn Aplanalp said.

The force of the floodwaters smashed in their garage doors and flooded a patio room where they entertained guests. More water began to leak into the basement, and they had to get a second pump.

"It's just frustration now," Roxanne Aplanalp said. "And this one could have been prevented if decent culverts had been put in."

The Aplanalps and some others in Gunlock believe that larger culverts would not have clogged with debris during the second flood, preventing the water from backing up on the Aplanalps and two of their neighbors.

But Kenny Canfield of the Washington County roads department said the larger 8-foot culverts on another temporary crossing downstream also were clogged with debris during the flash flood.

There was so much water that day that it would have taken out the Gunlock bridge if it had still been intact, he said.

Ron Whitehead, the county public works director, said the county tried to install larger metal culverts at the Gunlock crossing but they were crushed by the heavy equipment traveling over the crossing.

However, after the flash flood, one 8-foot concrete culvert was installed in the middle of the crossing.

County Commission Chairman James Eardley said the crossings were constructed in an emergency situation after the January flooding to open up the access for Gunlock residents.

"There's nowhere that we've spent more time, money and energy than Gunlock," Eardley said. "We did the best we could."

Roxanne Aplanalp also questioned why funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for emergency watershed protection were spent first on places that have not been flooded since January. The first projects were completed in Santa Clara and St. George.

In September, a similar project to armor the river banks against flooding and erosion began in Gunlock with additional NRCS funding.

Eardley said the NRCS gave the county priorities for the emergency work.

However, the county dipped into its own pockets to pay for protection measures in Gunlock, Eardley said.

"We did take care of Gunlock," he said.


Information from: The Spectrum,

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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