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Flood Victims Reject Offer of Inmate Labor

Flood Victims Reject Offer of Inmate Labor

Posted - Oct. 26, 2004 at 7:41 a.m.



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PAROWAN, Utah (AP) -- Angry Cedar Meadows residents didn't care to hear the flooding of their Cedar City subdivision was an act of God and were not appeased by a county offer of inmate labor to help repair the damage.

Iron County commissioners had no explanation for the residents Monday when they asked nobody from the county arrived to help them last Thursday when an embankment along the Coal Creek irrigation ditch gave way and sent a torrent of water through their homes.

"When I called 911, after calling three city employees, one county employee and was standing in 6 inches of water in my house, no one came," said resident Becky Orton. "I would have been better lying and telling them I was having a heart attack. Where was our help?"

"If there is an emergency plan in place, it's sure hurting," her husband, Kevin, said.

Commissioner Dennis Stowell said nobody communicated the problem to him.

Commission chairman Wayne Smith said he hopes to prevent future occurrences.

"What's happened, happened, so let's fix the problem," he said.

Ten residents confronted the commissioners Monday morning, handing them preliminary claims for damage to five houses hit by last week's flood.

Commissioners asked if they would consider having prisoners from the Iron County Jail do repair work on their houses.

The residents rejected the idea not only for security fears, but because the prisoners are not licensed, bonded contractors.

"Was I satisfied? Hell no," Becky Orton said after the meeting. "Do we have any more answers? No -- other than we can adopt a prisoner."

She also bristled when the flooding was described as an act of God.

"If I hear, ever again, this is an act of God, I will kill somebody," she said. "Don't blame my Heavenly Father for something like this."

Iron County Engineer Steve Platt other developments in the area contributed to the flooding.

"Cedar City never asked Iron County about putting Cedar Meadows out there," Platt said. "This is my worst nightmare."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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