Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Drainage Crew From Sandy, Utah Save Home From Raging Little Cottonwood Creek Flood Even Though Home Is Outside The City Limits

A drainage crew monitoring the swollen Little Cottonwood Creek in Sandy, Utah noticed that a home in the area was in danger of getting swallowed up by the raging torrent. But even though the home in question is outside the Sandy City Limits, they didn't stand on ceremony -- they pitched in, did the right thing, and saved the home -- at least for now.

From the Salt Lake Tribune story (see Tribune photo gallery of flooding HERE):

A Sandy drainage crew worked around the clock Sunday night (June 7th) and Monday and miraculously saved the home of Taylor and Kim World from the raging waters of Little Cottonwood Creek. Although the World's house in the 8900 block of Cobble Canyon Circle is just outside Sandy's east boundary, Ted Ketten's drainage crew jumped into the fray Sunday night as snowmelt raced down the channel after a day when the mercury rose toward 90 degrees.


But the flooding isn't over and his house sits at a trouble spot. About 25 feet of his yard eroded into the swiftly moving waters and the creek threatened the house's foundation.

The rescue was facilitated by the fact that the city had delivered tons of large boulders to the site of a proposed retention pond at 11000 South and 1000 East, so all the crew had to do was grab 120 tons of the rocks to secure the banks near the Worlds' house. It's believed that had the rocks not been positioned at the house, it would have been washed out.

But the threat is not over. The floodwaters gushing down Little Cottonwood Canyon are the highest since 1983, according to Unified Fire Authority Chief Michael Jensen. On Sunday, the Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Creeks crested at 840 cubic feet per second and 780 cubic feet per second, respectively. Both waterways typically run near 700 cubic feet per second. They were expected to crest higher Monday night and Tuesday morning. At one point, over 500 volunteers were filling sandbags. There's also been significant damage to some condos in Holladay and minor damage to homes, apartments and businesses in Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, Murray and Midvale. Flooding was also reported in Lehi to the south, and along the Weber River to the north through the Kamas Valley communities of Oakley and Peoa. The threat of flooding could persist for up to five more days. (Deseret News photo gallery HERE).

KSL news video from June 7th at 10 PM embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

How did this happen? Sustained cool temperatures in May, followed by an abrupt warmup into the 80s in the first week in June. Last month in Salt Lake City was the third-coolest May on record and the coldest in 57 years. All that snowpack in the mountains begins to melt at once, exceeding the capacity of creeks to carry it off safely. Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Smith explained that abundant late spring snow and cool weather created the potential for flooding set off by the warm snap of the last few days. And with 2.8 inches of snow melting per day over the past three days and Sunday hitting 3 inches total, the water flow rapidly increased and created dangerous conditions for homes despite precautions. The normal melt rate is 1 to 1 1/2 inches. These are the type of conditions which triggered the damaging floods along the Wasatch Front in 1983.

But flooding is not expected to be as widespread this time as it was in 1983.

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