Normally, mitigation is not the goal of the Emery County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Greg Funk would rather prevent damage. But the Green River, running at 2.5 times average levels for this time of year, has forced the Department to work to mitigate the harm.
Sheriff Funk and his deputies have expected problems with flooding for more than a month. In preparation, Funk sent out Sergeant Mitch Vetere to visit local farmers, warning them to move livestock and equipment to higher ground. Inmates and volunteers from Emery and Grand County have gathered three times to fill over 10,000 sand bags.
The sheriff also worked to develop agreements with local construction companies and the Bureau of Land Management to have gravel, rock and riprap available for use should it be needed. And the sheriff is grateful they had time to prepare. “It’s been nice having the time to prepare for it,” he said. “Have we gotten everything taken care of…? No. There have been little issues pop up, and that’s why we’re back down here.”
Though experts had expected the river to crest on Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Green River hit it’s high mark, running at nearly 45,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Tuesday. The swiftly-flowing river flooded low-lying fields, eroded stream banks, threatened homes and bridges, and created new water hazards at the Green River State Park Golf Course.
Funk toured the affected areas on Tuesday, checking on homes that are threatened by the high water, something he has asked his deputies to keep a close watch on every night as the water has continued to rise. “The deputies are checking on the water levels each night to make sure our citizens can rest easy,” said Funk, “…if they can, with this much water running by them.”
During his tour, Funk pointed out some of the most striking results of the flooding. The local golf course and low-lying agricultural areas are underwater, leaving ponds, where grass and fields were seen just the day before. The sheriff estimated that over 150 acres were underwater in low-lying areas.
The Sheriff and deputies have also been assessing the threat to the State Road 19 Bridge that crosses the river, and the railroad bridge just beyond. ” One of our concerns is that logs could come down and take out the bridges,” he related. So far, Funk reported, they have not seen any threats that are “too concerning.”
Another concern the sheriff addressed was for the diversion dam north of Green River that channels water into the Emery County side of the river, water that is used by local farmers and ranchers. “The water may take a channel and miss the dam, causing the channel to dry up on the Emery County side,” Funk explained. Though crews haven’t been forced to take drastic action to resolve the problem, they are prepared.
The Sheriff’s Department will begin work as soon as possible to evaluate the flood damage.
Funk expressed gratitude for the efforts of the Emery County Road Department and the Grand County Road and Sheriff’s Departments.В “The partnership has been incredible,” he said. ” Both sides are working on both sides of the river. When there is an emergency, there is not a Grand County or an Emery County, per se. It has been fantastic.”