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Flooding leads to limited evacuations; sandbagging continues over weekend

By Rob Nielsen - | May 15, 2023

Photo supplied

Flood waters partially inundate milepost 24 of state Route 39 over the weekend. The road is still open as of Monday, May 15, 2023, but with alternating one-way traffic.

Record snowpack continues to contribute to flooding situations along the Weber and Ogden rivers as temperatures rise.

As a new week dawned, roadways have reported flooding, evacuations were carried out in Ogden Canyon and volunteers continue to turn out to alleviate the situation.

Weber County Emergency Manager Lisa Gosline said some limited evacuations have been made in Ogden Canyon due to flooding.

“(Sunday) the (Ogden) River was very high in the south fork and we had a private bridge (at Ruby Resort) that had some issues,” she said. “We took some mitigation efforts on that just so we don’t lose that bridge down the river and then we asked them to evacuate that area because it has quite a bit of water flowing through it right now. That was basically employees we sent home.”

She added a woman was also evacuated from a private residence near the Meadows Campground for a couple of days but was able to return Monday morning.

Gosline said reports that 20-30 people have been evacuated in the area were unfounded and that an evacuation of this scope has neither been ordered nor deemed necessary as of Monday.

According to Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Mitch Shaw, part of state Route 39 began to flood over the weekend at milepost 24 along the south fork of the Ogden River.

“The south fork of the Ogden River has exceeded its capacity to hold water with all this runoff coming down,” he said. “There’s a section of the road with standing water that’s come on the road from the river. We’ve got the road open and people can travel through it.”

However, he said the road is down to a single lane at this location and that temporary traffic lights have been set up to direct traffic around the problem area.

“This is a section of road that just doesn’t see a ton of traffic,” he said.

Shaw said he’s unsure if the flooding will worsen at this location enough to close the road but added that UDOT will continue to monitor the situation and will close the section if both lanes end up inundated.

However, there is good news further down S.R. 39 in Ogden Canyon where a partial road washout had closed the road to general traffic most of the day Thursday. A single lane was opened up by Thursday evening to allow traffic to go around it.

Shaw said, as of Monday, the road is fully open.

“Over the weekend … we had the alternating one-way traffic,” he said. “We’ve taken the lights out, both lanes are open and the fix is holding up well. Obviously, we’re going to continue to monitor that, but we’ve solidified that area of the road.”

He said the fix is largely permanent, though some additional paving may be needed at a later date.

Shaw said the whole canyon is under a microscope due to the high flows of the Ogden River, but officials haven’t noticed any specific areas along the route that are imminently expected to washout.

Gosline said volunteers are still turning out in droves to help with flood mitigation efforts, even on such an important weekend.

“It was really awesome (Sunday) because there were tons and tons of volunteers on Mother’s Day, all day long in the upper valley near the UDOT shed,” she said. “I bet there was 150-200 residents volunteering their time to fill sandbags and take them up to the residents along the river in the south fork.”

She said that flood defenses throughout the county seem to be holding up well but that the flood threat is nowhere near receding yet.

“So far, we’ve got flows that we feel are manageable and we hope it stays that way,” she said. “I’d imagine with that high amount of snow, we’re at least a month out, if not more than that. I think things are going to rock and roll for at least another three to four weeks, and then after that it will start to slow down — it won’t be gone, but I think it will start to slow down.”


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