Murray City prepares for potential spring floodingMay 08, 2023 12:10PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Floodwaters in 1969 rendered a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round in Murray Park useless. (Photo courtesy of Murray City)
As the Jordan River Watershed snowpack measures 229% above normal, Murray City is preparing for potential spring flooding. The Jordan River Watershed includes Little Cottonwood Creek, Big Cottonwood Creek and the Jordan River. Although there is no way to predict future temperatures and weather that may impact the runoff, the city closely monitors weather patterns, snowpack levels and stream flows.
“We are closely monitoring weather patterns, snowpack levels and stream flows,” Murray City Chief Communications Officer Tammy Kikuchi said. “Public Works purchased a second round of 20k sandbags and numerous loads of sand in preparation. Sand and bags are available to the public now. We have public works mutual aid contracts in place and county support for any additional resource needs. Creek beds and storm drains are currently being cleaned of debris by SLCO Flood Control and several contractor companies.”
To assess flooding potential along waterways, FEMA maps are used. Sand and bags have been placed in at-risk neighborhoods, Wheeler Farm and Murray Amphitheater for public use. The city has taken measures to clean storm drains, secure resources (pumps, sandbags, etc.), train staff, meet with residents, remove bridges and set up sandbag-filling areas.
“Water flows to the lowest point, and Murray is the lowest point in the valley. The city has a history of flooding, including high water in many years since the historic 1983 floods. As a result, the city has knowledge and experience with problem areas,” Kikuchi said.
Murray City Public Works has access to rock, muscle wall and portable flood barrier throughout the county. They have removed footbridges in the park that can cause debris problems and will sandbag a few areas. Debris blockages will likely cause the most significant problems for any critical infrastructure. Public Works will have equipment and personnel staged in those locations to ensure they remain debris-free.
“Public Works is in the 500-year flood zone but does not anticipate problems there,” Kikuchi said.
Murray is in constant contact with Salt Lake County, which will coordinate with state and federal agencies if necessary.
“Nick Haskin, Murray City emergency manager, is in near-daily contact with Salt Lake County Emergency Management and Murray City Public Works. I am also in contact with surrounding city Emergency Managers. Salt Lake County Emergency Management is working closely with the State Division of Emergency Management and will contact the governor if federal resources are needed,” Kikuchi said.
The city provides information to its residents via its website, electronic newsletter, social media and utility bill inserts. To subscribe to or obtain information about these measures, visit the city’s website at www.murray.utah.gov. Residents may also call the public works department at 801-270-2400 for assistance or to get additional information.
FEMA flood maps for information on threats in your area can be found online at msc.fema.gov/portal/search.
Kikuchi said, “Please sign up for the emergency alert notifications. We also have reverse 911 and IPAWS Integrated Public Alert Warning System for notifications. Slcoem.org for volunteer signups, volunteer assistance needed and sandbag locations.”
Murray City provides resources such as sand and bags (free of charge) for property owners to use at their discretion. According to Kikuchi, it is the responsibility of the individual property owners to take mitigation and protective actions on their property. Most private properties meet in the middle of the creek beds. This is not the responsibility of the city. The city will supply resources and assist where possible, but the owner is solely responsible. Murray Emergency Manager will help facilitate volunteers as requests for help come in. The city will meet with property owners to discuss mitigation plans at their request.
Individuals or businesses who may suffer losses due to flooding are encouraged to purchase flood insurance and take protective actions to secure their valuables and property from flood threat/damage.
Murray Park is designed as a flood basin. Therefore, higher retaining walls were placed in the park, and equipment will be staged near problem areas to prevent debris from blocking channels, bridges and culverts. Fatalities and injuries have happened in previous flooding years, especially children falling into Little Cottonwood Creek.
“If citizens live on one of the creeks and rivers in Murray, then now is the time to prepare for potential flooding. Sandbags and sand are available at several locations in Murray to fill and transport. Call the city’s public works department for more information or questions,” Kikuchi said. λ