Heber residents prepare Center Street for snowmelt river
The water is rising in Heber City. On Saturday, hundreds of people filled and placed sandbags to protect property.
As spring and warmer temperatures melt the deepest snowpack the Heber area has ever had, waterways are are running high and fast. The city’s primary storage ponds are full, and emergency managers expect the runoff will overflow the retention and drainage network in the weeks to come.
Volunteers at the city public works building filled 3,000 sandbags Friday and another 3,000 Saturday morning. By late morning, they showed no signs of slowing down.
Organizers expected to work until dark, building a channel from Center Creek southeast of town to Spring Creek west of town. They lined the sides of Center Street and 600 West with the sandbags. It’s similar to the course water gushed through in past flood years, such as 1983.
Working in a team with his family, Aaron Plaizier said he didn’t know exactly what to expect but knew the work they were doing was important.
“We’re filling sandbags for a little flood,” he said. “I just heard that the water’s coming from the snow. We’re going to be here until about noon I think. The thing I enjoyed a lot is just filling these bags.”
A canal overflowed Wednesday night near their home, which is in the area of Center Street and 800 East. The water flowed into Center Street, where it inundated drainage basins and forced crews to shut down lanes between Mill Road and 750 East. The water was only four blocks from Main Street.
Also Wednesday, water cascaded into several backyards and homes below the Timpanogos Canal in a new neighborhood off Coyote Lane.
Compared to what City Manager Matt Brower expects, that was just a trickle. He wants the roads to be ready for a river the likes of what rushed through Salt Lake City Wednesday. That night, hundreds of people showed up in Sugar House to help build sandbag walls and protect about 100 homes, according to Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.
Saturday morning, the Heber Valley Rotary Club was supposed to do a highway cleanup project but changed plans to support the flood mitigation instead.
“We have a neat community that really responds,” said Vaughn Hokanson, Rotary member. “It’s really cool to see how many people just stay proactive with making sure that community service gets done when it needs to be done. We feel lucky and spoiled to have such a responsive and good community.”
They also credited local church groups and Wasatch High School lacrosse team members for showing up.
After a break Sunday, Brower expected the work to continue into Monday and possibly Tuesday.
People can call Heber City Hall at 435-654-0757 or the public works office at 435-654-0757 to find out how to get involved.