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Utah, Salt Lake County, Millcreek issue states of emergency

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A Salt Lake police officer surveys the damage in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The massive winds that took out thousands of trees from Cache County to Utah County on Tuesday left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency on Wednesday on the heels of Tuesday’s destructive windstorm.

“I am declaring a State of Emergency following yesterday’s wind event. I’m amazed at the efforts of Utahns working together to clean up the damage,” the governor tweeted Wednesday while surveying damage in Centerville, which declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

That declaration was followed a short time later by Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson making an emergency declaration for her county.

“The decision to issue the (emergency declaration) was based on multiple concerns, including the extent of damage, anticipated need for resources and cost of recovery,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.

Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini followed suit, issuing a proclamation declaring a local emergency in his city as a result of the severe windstorm.

One “weather-related fatality” was reported by Intermountain Healthcare Tuesday afternoon, and at least a dozen others were treated for minor injuries and were later released. Donald Hardy, 61, died after sustaining head injuries while delivering motor oil to Industrial Injection, 2858 S. 300 West, at 8:21 a.m., according to South Salt Lake police public information officer Danielle Croyle.

“It was a couple, and the wife had gone to the truck and he was finishing unloading,” Croyle said. “He’s getting ready to be done, when the wind comes up, and we don’t know if it knocked him back or if it blew the door and he fell back, but he fell back and hit his head. He sustained a significant traumatic brain injury.”

Medical personnel were summoned and Hardy was taken to a nearby hospital where he died from his injuries later Tuesday.

“The couple had sold everything and was just driving truck,” Croyle said of the couple, who are not from Utah. “So she’s at an area hotel waiting to see when his body will be released so she can figure out what she’s going to do because she doesn’t have a home or a place to go.”

It was a day of cleanup across northern Utah on Wednesday as state and city leaders surveyed the damage. Herbert was expected to join Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall in surveying damage in the Rose Park area.

Fortunately, the Wasatch Front was spared a second day of destruction as the massive winds that took out thousands of trees from Cache County to Utah County on Tuesday and left nearly 200,000 customers without power did not materialize as strongly on Wednesday.

But the destruction left behind from Tuesday’s storm remained Wednesday as cleanup efforts began in full across the Wasatch Front.

Rocky Mountain Power said its crews were working nonstop to restore electricity. By Wednesday afternoon, about 96,000 customers still had no power. That included 64,000 in the Salt Lake Valley and 28,000 north of Salt Lake City.

The company said customers without service Wednesday evening should prepare to be without power into Thursday because of the level of damage and the wide areas that the windstorm affected.

“Even so, repair crews will continue their efforts continuously until service to all customers is restored,” Rocky Mountain Power said.

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood reminded residents to stay away from downed power lines.

“It is a new day in SSL. As the winds calm, I cannot stress enough that we all should stay away from power lines that are down. There remains a serious risk that they are still energized. This applies to pets too! Rocky Mountain Power has been hard at work throughout the night. They continue to work through our neighborhoods. Help is coming, stay safe!” she tweeted.

Because of the continuing outages as well as damage caused by the weather, several school districts canceled classes on Wednesday, both in person and online, including Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Ogden districts. Weber State University also canceled all classes.

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Noah Elggren, 7, jumps off a downed tree in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The massive winds that took out thousands of trees from Cache County to Utah County on Tuesday left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Other schools that were canceled include Albion Middle School, Brookwood Elementary and Quail Hollow Elementary in the Canyons District; Ascent Academy in Farmington; Ogden Preparatory Academy, Bonneville Junior High, Spring Lane Elementary, Eastwood Elementary, Wasatch Junior High, Crestview Elementary, Farnsworth Elementary, Cottonwood Elementary, William Penn Elementary, Rosecrest Elementary, Upland Terrace Elementary and Granite Peaks High School in the Granite District; the Layton Christian Academy; and St. Joseph Catholic in Ogden.

The Utah Transit Authority announced that the TRAX Red and Blue lines were running again Wednesday, but at “slower speeds so riders should expect delays.

FrontRunner was also running Wednesday but at slower speeds. UTA cautioned riders to expect delays on all rail systems.