Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and local legislators gathered Friday to call on Provo residents to get involved in flood mitigation efforts.

"Every community has different needs, different risks," Henderson said from the Provo public works yard. "Please come out and help in these community efforts where your city leaders are calling for extra help."

More than 45,000 sandbags had been filled and several thousand were already put into place as of Friday morning, Kaufusi said. The city's goal is to fill 100,000 bags by May 1.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, right, fills sandbags at the Provo public works yard Friday morning. Henderson, Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and local legislators are calling on Provo residents to get involved in flood mitigation efforts.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, right, fills sandbags at the Provo public works yard Friday morning. Henderson, Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and local legislators are calling on Provo residents to get involved in flood mitigation efforts. | Provo City Council

She said 411 volunteers had spent 1,255 hours filling sandbags as of Thursday. Geneva Rock also donated 2,500 tons of sand, worth $12,000.

"Our volunteer numbers are impressive and prove how quickly a community can come together to make a difference," she said.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order March 16 granting all state employees up to eight hours of paid leave to volunteer for flood mitigation projects.

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, said he has seen the street outside the public works yard at 568 E. 1325 South in Provo filled with cars as volunteers have gathered to fill sandbags.

"Ultimately, that's what's going to put our city in a position to succeed, so thank you," Clancy said of the volunteers.

Signs outside the Provo public works yard show volunteers where to come fill sandbags on Friday, April 14, 2023. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and local legislators are calling on Provo residents to get involved in flood mitigation efforts.
Signs outside the Provo public works yard show volunteers where to come fill sandbags on Friday, April 14, 2023. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and local legislators are calling on Provo residents to get involved in flood mitigation efforts. | Gabrielle Shiozawa, KSL.com

Provo resident Denise Smallcanyon was among volunteers filling sandbags at the public works yard on Friday. She said she saw helping with the sandbags as a good chance to serve her fellow Provo residents.

"Even if you could do an hour, it would help," Smallcanyon said. "Don't feel like you need to be here every day. Just a little bit helps."

Personal preparation

Henderson encouraged Provo residents to check flood maps to assess their home risks, and reminded them that houses that aren't on the map can still be affected by flooding.

Areas being monitored for flood prevention include Rock Canyon, Slate Canyon, Little Rock Canyon and houses next to the Provo River, Kaufusi said.

Henderson also advocated buying flood insurance and learning where to get sandbags. She asked residents not to play in floodwaters because of possible debris and bacteria in the water.

"Understand the risks in your area and follow the advice of your city leaders who are on top of this," Henderson said. "They want, more than anything, to make sure that your homes and your cities are protected."

Henderson said Utah has already exceeded the $5 million allotted for flood prevention and the state will probably need to dip into the Legislature's aptly named rainy day fund. She said her team is looking at a possible emergency declaration but has no current plans to announce one.

Kaufusi also encouraged Provo residents to keep up with announcements on the Provo website and social media channels. She praised the public works department for being ahead of the curve.

"Provo is preparing for the worst but hoping for the best," she said. "We are prepared from A to Z. We have maps, we have plans. We have diversion roads already prepared. We'll just do the best we can."

Residents in Provo prepare for flooding, hoping to fill 100K sandbags by May 1