Officials evaluate aftermath of severe Cedar City flooding, brace for more storms

Both state and city officials met with community members to evaluate the aftermath of the flood that swept through Cedar City on Monday. (Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson)



CEDAR CITY — As southern Utah residents prepare for more storms, state and local leaders spent Tuesday attempting to assess the damage caused by significant flooding that occurred in the area on Monday.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards declared a state of emergency Monday evening after some parts of the city received over 2 inches of rain in one hour, leading to flooding. The flooding caused extensive damage to public and private property throughout the city, she added.

Monday's storm was categorized as a 500-year frequency flooding event in some areas, according to a statement from Wilson-Edwards. The amount of rain combined with the short period of time led to an overwhelming of flood control structures in the city.

City crews worked throughout the night to help residents and assess the damage. Crews helped to clear debris out of roadways, pump water out of buildings — some of which were left uninhabitable — and clear out storm drains as additional storms are expected this week.

A shelter was set up by the Red Cross at a church located at 61 N. 900 West for residents who need it. Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson tweeted that the Red Cross needed help at the temporary shelter for residents who continue to be affected by flooding.

Wilson-Edwards added that the city had obtained more sandbags after the Cedar City Public Works Department reported Monday that their supply had run out. While a substantial number of sandbags had been acquired Tuesday, Wilson-Edwards emphasized that volunteers were still needed to help fill the sandbags at the public works yard, located at 716 N. Airport Road, and at the County Road Department, located at 1105 N. Bulldog Road.

"In the best tradition of Cedar City, our neighbors helped each other," she said in a statement. "Many neighbors helped those that experienced significant damage. There were also dozens of citizens helping to fill sandbags, and private corporations helped those that were hardest hit by the flooding."

The sentiment was carried by Henderson, who traveled to the city on Tuesday to help officials evaluate the damage and prepare as storms continue throughout the week. Henderson said that she was "blown away" by neighbors' kindness and the surrounding community as they helped clean flooded homes.

Roll-off dumpsters were provided to residents to deposit items ruined by the flooding, along with a waived fee at the Iron County landfill for the next week as cleanup continues.

"Know that at this time the city will continue to be working alongside our residents and businesses to provide needed assistance and support one another through this heartbreaking and difficult time," Wilson-Edwards said.

Southern Utah University also created the T-Bird Strong Fund for students experiencing financial hardship after the flooding. The fund is intended to help students pay for unexpected circumstances and to "pay for essential expenses such as temporary housing, food, and replacement supplies needed for school and work."

"Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this flooding. It's been a devastating loss and it's been humbling to be on the ground today to see what people are suffering and going through," said SUU interim President Mindy Benson.

Despite being affected by the flood, many students went to work to help the community Tuesday. Student-athletes from SUU's gymnastics and football teams participated in the cleanup efforts and filled sandbags.

"This volunteer spirit is one of the best things about Cedar City," Wilson-Edwards said. "Our people's willingness to help each other in times of need is truly special."

The National Weather Service issued several flash flood warnings on Tuesday for Garfield and Kane counties, including slot canyons and washes along Hole in the Rock Road outside of Escalante until 5:45 p.m. The weather service also issued a significant weather advisory for Bear Lake north-central Uinta county as storms rolled through the state.

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