Provo Prepares for Mudslides

Provo Prepares for Mudslides

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Sam Penrod ReportingPeople in a Provo neighborhood have been worrying about mudslides since last year's fire there. But today those residents can breathe more easily now that an emergency flood channel has been constructed.

For the last two months giant equipment has been digging into the mountain creating an escape path for fast moving mud and water. It's an insurance policy that neighbors who live below say will help them sleep better at night.

The scars of a fire from a year ago on the mountain still remain. Rehabilitation efforts to get grass growing on the mountain is working, but likely couldn't hold the ground together in the event of a heavy rainstorm.

Reese Pope, Uinta National Forest: “Nature takes time to heal from a fire, there's only so much we can do to accelerate that on the mountain, and so this structure provides a barrier to protect these folks from any kind of runoff until the mountain recovers."

The steep mountain leads right into a neighborhood. After Provo residents saw what happened in nearby Santaquin last year, where a mudslide rushed down the mountain in a fire ravaged area, the threat became very real.

Chris Hieber, Resident: "We eventually got flood insurance for some peace of mind, but flood insurance covers that, it doesn't cover your life and that's where our biggest fear was."

After a year in the planning stages, the channel will direct any heavy runoff or debris away from any homes. City officials say the 140 thousand dollar project, 75 percent of which was covered by federal money, is a small price to pay to save even one home. Now dozens of homeowners who live below won't have to worry every time dark clouds develop over the mountain.

Dave Knecht, Provo City Councilman: "Now that it's done we don't have to worry about which thunderstorm is going to be big enough to cause a problem, we can get a direct hit and this will handle it."

The flood channel is 15 hundred feet long and required crews to haul out 17 thousand cubic yards of dirt. In the fall grass will be planted to give the channel a more natural look.

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