RICHFIELD — Gov. Gary Herbert surveyed flood damage in Central Utah Tuesday, where the spring runoff is growing by the day.
A 2-mile stretch of state Route 118 between Joseph and Monroe has already been closed for a week because water has swamped the road. High water has parts of the river one-eighth to one-fourth of a mile from its original route, according to Sevier County Commission Chairman Gordon Topham.
I appreciate the initiative we have seen here with many people taking action into their own hands.
–Gov. Gary Herbert
Herbert met with Stan Allen, whose home continues to be threatened from high water overflowing the Sevier River. About a dozen homes in Sevier County are dealing with high water.
"I appreciate the initiative we have seen here with many people taking action into their own hands — filling sandbags and stacking sandbags to protect their property, not waiting for government to come to their rescue," Herbert said.
Local officials escorted the governor through several areas overwhelmed with water that has been causing trouble for at least a month.
"We're not seeing a lot of extra damage, but we are seeing that it continues to keep the water levels up; and those peaks up and down can affect the river banks," said Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis. "If they keep getting pounded, those banks are going to soften and fall apart, and so that's what makes us nervous now."
Local leaders believe improvements made after a high water year in 2005 are helping to prevent what could have been more serious damage.
"We have a right to be proud for what we have done after the last floods but recognize we still have more things to do," said Sevier County Commissioner Gordon Topham.
The governor remains optimistic about the flooding situation statewide. "There's a lot of areas of concern that I've got, but I am pleased that we seem to be doing as best as we can under the circumstances. The old cliché ‘we're hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst' is really true here," Herbert said.
The biggest impact from the flooding in central Utah involves agriculture, and the governor says the state is working with farmers to find grant money to help alleviate some of their losses.
The flood watch in northern Utah is widespread, including northern Morgan, northwestern Summit, northeastern Davis and central Weber counties, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management. "Damage can be expected to the levee system protecting property near the town of Plain City and the levee system is in danger of failing," the state is warning.
The governor's Sevier County tour follows by one-week a tour of western Weber County, where homes, dairies, beef cattle and farmland are still under a flooding alert.