It has been a good snow year for Utah and the snow enthusiasts (many of whom are residents of Cottonwood Heights) have been celebrating all winter long.
Recent reports even indicate that for the first time since 2011, Utah is free of drought conditions. High snowpack levels are good for Utah’s reservoirs, but they bring with them the potential for floods, too. This spring in particular could potentially bring flooding to the residential and commercial properties bordering both Big and Little Cottonwood Creek. If you have a creekside property, now is the time to start thinking about preparing your yard for rising water levels.
You can start by moving loose items such as furniture, wood piles, or anything that could be washed into the creek away from the bank of the stream. Anything that does get swept away by the creek can clog culverts or get blocked elsewhere, which will often cause flooding downstream. Even leaves and small branches increase risk of flooding. Clogged culverts cause major problems for your downstream neighbors and negatively impact the aquatic ecology of the river itself. If water levels in the streams are low enough, take some time to ensure that all potential debris is removed. If you have trees, bushes, or other plants that may be at risk of breaking off and washing away, remove them now, before the water levels make it too difficult to reach them. Now that water is flowing, use caution when removing debris. Stay out of the creek, even if you see debris building up. The water is stronger than it looks and will only get stronger as we get further into springtime. Keep a safe distance from the creek and do not assume that the ground nearby is safe to stand on. Your safety is top priority.
Some creekside yards have been landscaped with “floodplain” features such as a backyard berm which will act as natural sandbagging, but for those who don’t, obtaining sandbags is advised as they will be the first line of defense against damage to your home in case of a flood.
If you would like to purchase sandbags, they can be purchased from most hardware stores. If being used specifically for flood prevention, sandbags can also be obtained from Salt Lake County Public Works by calling (385)468-6600 during daylight hours or (385)468-6101 in an emergency situation.
Should the need arise, Cottonwood Heights will have sandbag filling stations available. Visit cottonwoodheights.gov for updates and volunteer opportunities regarding sandbag filling stations. The will be located at:
1525 E. Creek Rd.
2895 E Creek Rd.
St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church
3015 Creek Rd.
If you are planning landscape changes to your yard, consider including a backyard berm as it will create a natural sandbagging effect, thus protecting your yard for years to come. It is best to coordinate these plans with your neighbors to ensure that your landscape changes do not simply divert water into the neighboring property. Also consider the zoning and permit requirements for landscaping projects.
Monitor flood conditions by visiting slco.org/flood-control/ and slcoem.com . Local weather reports and NOAA weather conditions are useful resources as well.
Lastly, review your current insurance policy to find out if coverage is provided for flood damage to your home and possessions. Many insurance providers require policies to be in place for a certain amount of time before flooding begins, so check your policy as soon as possible.
In 2010, we had great volunteer response from the community. Volunteers filled sandbags, helped place sandbags, and helped with cleanup efforts after the flooding was over. Cottonwood Heights relies on this volunteer base especially in times of flooding or other natural disasters. We know that this year will be no exception and we welcome your help and support.
Contact Cottonwood Heights Emergency Manager Mike Halligan (801) 541-3482 for more information about volunteer opportunities. We know that with your help, we can minimize the effect that this year’s melting snowpack will have on the citizens and their property in Cottonwood Heights.