Volunteers Fill Sandbags Over Snowpack Fears

Volunteers Fill Sandbags Over Snowpack Fears

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- Southern Utah football players spent hours this week filling sandbags to be used in case the snowpack in the mountains melts too fast and brings more flooding to the region.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, has told The Salt Lake Tribune that there is so much water in the snow on Cedar Mountain that flooding from Coal Creek that cuts through Cedar Canyon into the city is inescapable.

Its severity depends on whether the spring is warm and dry, allowing for an extended runoff, or wet and cool, indicating the runoff will come down later and faster when temperatures hit up to 100 degrees.

About 50 football players filled the bags Wednesday. Sheriff Mark Gower said he ordered 50,000 sandbags from a Salt Lake City company at 32 cents a bag - $16,000 - and already has distributed 20,000 unfilled bags to church and civic groups.

Wednesday's effort by the football team was organized by the county's volunteer center, which also is compiling contact lists for use in the event of flooding, according to spokeswoman Abbey Kyhl.

She said other Iron County volunteers are in place to provide muscle power, as well as shelter and meals.

Meanwhile, officials in adjacent Washington County, which was ravaged during January with flood damage totaling more than $200 million, said preparations are moving ahead at a steady pace to counter a repeat scenario this spring.

Dean Cox, that county's emergency services director, said sandbags are available at fire stations. In addition, work is progressing to repair river channels and banks for possible flooding from runoff of the record snow pack in the mountains above St. George.

Old U.S. highway 91 that was washed out by the Santa Clara River during the January flood, cutting off the tiny town of Gunlock from the south, has been reopened and a temporary bridge has been repaired and reinforced.

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

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