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Huntington mayor warns of potential spring flooding, asks for state help

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 10:38pm

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HUNTINGTON, Emery County — Huntington Creek is barely a creek right now. It's frozen over in most places.

But every time Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon looks at it she gets worried.

"I'm sort of looking at trying to prevent disaster," she said. "We know there's going to be flooding this next spring."

She believes that because of damage left behind after a wildfire this past summer.

The Seeley Fire tore through Huntington Canyon in July, and after a couple of heavy rainstorms, tons of silt and rocks were left in the creek beds leading into Huntington.

Because the creek beds are already full of debris, Gordon thinks when the spring thaw happens, and all that water will into town and into nearby homes, businesses, and farms.

She thinks digging out the creek beds and removing the debris will prevent flooding. Engineers say the work can be done, but it will cost roughly $800,000.

Gordon said the city can't afford to take out a loan for that much money, so she's turning to the state of Utah for assistance.

"We have been working on this for about three or four months now trying to get funding to assist us," she said. "They're listening, but I don't think they're really hearing."

A couple of the business owners whose businesses sit in the lower part of Huntington say they're not concerned about flooding. But they also admit they haven't heard too much about any flooding potential.

That's where state Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, comes in. He's planning on introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session to get funding for the project.

"We've got some real issues here," Hinkins said. "This is going to flood, and it could wipe out 20 homes along the river, if the river was to change channels and go down some old channels or something like that. We really have to do something to prevent it."

Hinkins, who is in Utah's 27th District, is also concerned about a log jam just up Huntington Canyon.

The 900-foot wide, 6-foot deep log jam is full of trees that fell from the wildfire. Hinkins thinks when the water comes down, those trees could take out bridges, and maybe even Huntington's drinking water line.

"Huntington could be without drinking water for a long time if that happens," he said.

Of course, both Hinkins and Gordon know the flooding might not happen. However, Gordon wonders if a little money up front will save millions of dollars if the area does flood.

"You know that old saying, ‘An ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure?' I really believe this is true," she said.


Alex Cabrero

KSL Weather Forecast