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State of emergency declared in Garland due to flooding

GARLAND, Box Elder County — City leaders in Garland have declared a state of emergency, as hundreds of homeowners continue to battle rising waters.

Garland Mayor Todd Miller says flooding tends to come to Garland every 10 years or so, but he’s never seen it this bad.

“We are having a lot of problems because there’s a lot of other cities that have been pumping and the county has been pumping down into fields, one after another, and now it’s all just accumulating in Garland,” Miller said, “so we’re getting worse and worse now than we’ve been the whole time.”

It’s been flooding in the area for days, and pumps have been running nonstop.

"Almost every house in Garland's got groundwater problems," Miller said. "Almost every one of them's pumping out of their sump pumps."

By declaring a state of emergency, the city has been able to call on some extra resources, including help from the county and surrounding areas. In one neighborhood, large trucks pump up the water and then hauling it away.

"It just all came in a big gush underneath our fence and just completely filled up our backyards, and then you know the result of that was it coming into the basement," said homeowner Tonya McKee.

She moved into her home in May and she says it’s the first time the house has ever flooded.

"This (pump) has been running every two to three minutes, nonstop since Sunday," McKee said. "Everything is ruined."

While she’s not sure when everything will be cleaned up, she doesn't dare replace it yet.

It could be worse though. Tawsha Guthrie's sewer line keeps backing up because the connections all over town are inundating the wastewater treatment plant.

“This is the culprit in here. Right here is where it’s backing up ... two days ago it was just a fountain,” Guthrie said. “It would just continue to flow as all the debris and poo would just flow everywhere. It was just flowing everywhere.”

She hopes the pumps won’t stop working.

A hazmat team will need to come in and clean the mess. Guthrie said the cost is not covered by her renters insurance or the landlord’s insurance.

And if that isn't bad enough, Davis Misrasi is fighting flooding with jackhammers. With several fields nearby, he says the water came quickly. He dug trenches that he'll later replace with a drainage system to get on top of the problem.

"Without doing that, it would just keep building up and building up," Misrasi said.

The Red Cross says it will provide supplies in Garland on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at City Hall. They'll give out mops, brooms, paper towels and lots of cleaning supplies. Other agencies will be on hand to offer assistance.

The fields are saturated and standing water could be around for awhile, but cold temperatures are key right now.

Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service, says this winter has been a season of "extremes." In December, Utah had two to three times the normal snow fall; in January, four times as much. Then, a 15-degree warming trend in the last couple weeks.

"Accompany all of that snow along with that amount of warming and sunshine and then put some rain on it," and you get hundreds of people in Box Elder, Weber, Cache and Rich counties with flooded basement s, McInerney said.

Getting back to normal for northern Utah will take a while, McInerney said. But there are a couple of scenarios that can help keep things from getting worse. Most importantly — very cold temperatures.

"I think if you're right now putting sandbags out and you're worried about more additional flooding, this cold weather is exactly what you need right now," McInerney said.

He adds that if there's a slow warming trend — emphasis on slow — the saturated ground will have a chance to dry a bit and flooding shouldn't be as big a concern.

"But it's all going to depend on how it comes off," McInerney said. "If we melt it really fast, we're going to see some flooding issues. If we melt it gradually, we'll be OK."

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc