OGDEN -- "Nobody cares about their own backyard like the people who own their own backyard."
That was a central point made by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert when he toured western Weber County on Tuesday to view existing flood damage and to talk about strategies to avoid further damage.
He encouraged people to take care of themselves as much as possible, and then to turn to local governments if they require help.
"We've been asking people for over a month, 'If you don't have flood insurance, get it,' " Herbert said.
He was told by Weber County officials that they expect an estimated $90 million in damages to farms and businesses before the flooding subsides.
"We've already lost 2,000 acres south of here," Lance Peterson, Weber County emergency management and homeland security director, said while in West Weber. "We are at the threat of losing 2,000 more."
In a news conference following his tour, Herbert said he wanted to make three points:
* Flooding is a local issue.
"Even though the state is here, we recognize the first line of defense is the local government," he said.
* Neighbors should assist neighbors.
"We need to make sure there is a spirit of community here," he said.
* The state emergency operations center is at a heightened state of alert.
"It's at a Stage 2 right now, with the idea that we can move as quickly as possible, monitoring the situation not only daily but hourly," he said.
Herbert said the website bereadyutah.gov offers advice for individuals and businesses to prepare for and respond to flooding as well as a host of other emergencies.
"This is an all-hands-on-deck exercise as we work together for the good of the whole," Herbert said.
"We kind of had a perfect storm generated. ... What we are trying to do is have the perfect response."
Herbert had visited a handful of area farmers, ranchers and homeowners, including Glynn Wayment, of Warren, who told about a personal loss in the 1983 flood of about $200,000 when his crops were wiped out.
"My neighbor up here, he's going to lose a half a million dollars if that river breaks," he said.
Blaine Wade, of West Warren, told of an estimated $1.5 million in losses in his 3,000-head cattle operation if he loses the ability in the coming weeks to grow feed this year and is forced to purchase feed from out of state.
He pointed to an unplantable, saturated field that was the victim of river seepage.
The farmers and ranchers said while the flood waters might stay for only a few weeks, such losses could affect their bank accounts and bottom lines for up to 25 years, depending on what kind of a loan they can get to cover their losses. Herbert told them personally about government grants and loans that might be able to take some of the sting out of that bite.
"We are looking at some grant monies and ways to help," Herbert said to Wade.
But also being discussed were solutions that could have helped avoid current levels of flooding.
Herbert said he is aware of government red tape and liability issues that often keep riverways from being maintained properly.
During his tour, Herbert's entourage drove through 12 to 15 inches of water on 1500 North in Plain City. They also saw a handful of pastures that now appeared to be lakes.
Experts pointed to the likelihood of further flooding problems in the weeks to come.
Tage Flint, of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, said, "We've done what we think is responsible in all these reservoirs. It is not in every case going to be enough. We are confident that several of these reservoirs will spill over."
Flint told of emptying the reservoirs to a lower level than they've ever been after early warnings of what spring would hold.
He gave several examples of why he is worried this year.
Flint said watching the Rockport reservoir, he's never seen the water flow into it the way it is right now.
At Echo Reservoir, he said, the basin can hold 19,000 more cubic feet of water and has 205,000 cubic feet left to pass through its gates.
Brian MacNamara, of the Utah office of the National Weather Service, said what's most likely to happen -- temperatures in the 80s for a week or more -- is what we don't want to happen.
"We've had an incredibly cold and incredibly wet spring," he said, noting that rain has fallen on snowpack.
He said there was 200 percent of normal precipitation in April and 225 percent of normal in May.
MacNamara said the only hope of averting severe flooding is for temperatures to stay low so water can come down off the mountain slowly.
In an interview, Ted Wilson, senior adviser to the governor, described Weber County as the epicenter of flood damage this spring.
"This is kind of the hot spot," Wilson said, noting that he and the governor had gotten a visual image Tuesday morning of the damages by flying over the Wasatch Front.
At the news conference, Lance Davenport, commissioner with the Utah Department of Public Safety, said there have been 10 different reports of rock and mud slides in Utah and 15 different counties with flood issues thus far.
But Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson said he was encouraged that Herbert had chosen to visit Weber County.
"I think the governor being here is a good sign he is willing to help us where appropriate," Gibson said.
"We know we have responsibilities on the river that we can't afford to take care of on the county level," he said.
Last week, the Weber County Commission declared a local emergency, asking for the state to assist with a number of projects to address flooding as officials stated they were bracing for $90 million of economic impact.
The price tag for these local projects has been estimated at about $22 million.
The projects include creating an opening at Ogden Bay Refuge for the Weber River to empty into the Great Salt Lake, dredging the Weber River of silt, riprapping of the damaged river banks, creating a "Little Weber" diversionary channel in northwestern Weber County and assisting in the stabilization and repair of the Old Snow Basin road.