'We're not quitting yet:' Latest effort to repair levee fails

Jun 13 2011 - 9:34pm

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(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) On Monday, water rushes past large sandbags that were placed at a levee along the Weber River in Plain City at 5500 West and 400 North.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner) On Monday, water rushes past large sandbags that were placed at a levee along the Weber River in Plain City at 5500 West and 400 North.

The latest effort to help repair a broken levee may have failed, but Weber County emergency officials aren't giving up yet.

Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Lowther said the river was eating its way around several of the one-ton sandbags that were dropped via helicopter Friday near 5900 West and 400 North.

Crews have been working around the clock since the break, Lowther said, but by Monday afternoon, the workers had left the site and emergency officials were trying to figure out a way to contain the uncontrolled water dumping into a small canal and into surrounding fields, dangerously close to homes.

The problem now, Lowther said, is that more of the levee is beginning to erode south of the initial break.

"The problem is it's a large channel," he said. "We can't just move large equipment. It's just about exceeding the reach of the equipment."

A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter was brought in Friday to help transport one-ton sandbags to the scene of the levee break so workers could attempt to close part of the 40-foot-long break that occurred early Thursday.

"Our options are starting to become fewer," Lowther said, "but we're not quitting yet."

Lowther said figuring out a fix has been especially difficult because of the location of the break. It's set about a half-mile from a paved road, dotted with trees and now surrounded by soft mud, so getting any sort of heavy equipment back to the levee site has proven to be extremely difficult.

Though water is still flowing out of the Weber River, Lowther said officials have not seen a rise in standing water in fields, and no damage to nearby homes has been reported.

The situation was not noticeably worsened by rain that fell Monday on western Weber County. The National Weather Service expects temperatures to remain cooler than normal for this week, meaning high-mountain snowpack will melt more slowly than expected and should not exacerbate river flooding.

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