April turned out to be cold and wet, increasing the risk of significant runoff flows, but at least the forecast for the next week is favorable. While some of the low elevation snow pack should start melting, we don’t expect to see any significant runoff in the channels through Provo City until at least next week. And while we won’t see the kind of flooding we saw in the 80’s, there are a variety of potential problems we should be prepared for. The city is taking steps to mitigate those problems, including removing debris from the Provo River, monitoring key locations, and activating pumps around the area. We are also stocking up on pre-filled sandbags in case needed. Preparing for spring runoff has become the full-time job of everyone in our Storm Water Division and others in the Public Works Department. We’re doing everything with can with what is within our control.
Who needs to sandbag?
One of the problems to be prepared for is the possibility of the Provo River flowing into some residential areas. Property owners along the Provo River can expect conditions similar to what was experienced in 2005. If you needed to sandbag then, you will probably need to sandbag again. If you weren’t here then, ask around the neighborhood. If you have any concerns, you should consider sandbagging “just in case.” Property owners are responsible for protecting their own property.
Where do I get sandbags?
The public can get sandbags at the Provo City Public Works Department (1377 South 350 East, 801-852-6780). You can usually get up to about 100 for free, and more for a small fee. Sand is provided to fill the sandbags yourself. If a large scale, urgent need for sandbags occurs, the city will establish sandbag stations in neighborhoods, but we do not anticipate that at this time.
How do I report flooding?
While the city will monitor key locations along the river, it is impossible to predict where it might spill over. It is important for the public to report any flooding to the city as soon as possible. The United Way call center, “2-1-1”, is going to help us manage spring runoff issues. Please report any problem areas by calling the Provo City Helpline at 852-6000 or “2-1-1.” It’s important that you not try to fix problems, for example, remove debris from the river, yourself.
How can I help?
One of the best things about living in Provo is we have the highest volunteer rate in the country. Many people have offered to help in some way, and while we don’t have the need yet, we want to know how to reach you when the time comes. If you’re interested in volunteering, please call “2-1-1” and let them know.
What if I need help with sandbags?
If you need help with sandbags or anything else related to spring runoff, call “2-1-1”. They can put you in touch with volunteers or steer you in the right direction.
Where can I find updates?
We communicate with the public a number of ways. Check our city website (provo.org) and this blog regularly, and follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/provocity) or Twitter (twitter.com/provocity). Traditional media is a good source of information as well. In an emergency, the city will activate the Emergency Alert System. For statewide emergencies, tune into KSL radio (1160 AM or 102.7 FM). For emergencies localized to Utah County or Provo, tune into KBYU (89.1 FM).
In addition, Provo City Parks and Recreation recommends the following regarding bridge crossings along the Provo River trail:
- Watch children carefully.
- Do not walk near the bank nor wade into the river.
- Use caution when crossing streets.
- Be cautious of high flow/flooding potential when planning park or trail activities near the river.