Hatch to FEMA: Be Prepared for Major Flooding in Utah

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently put the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials on notice to be prepared for possible major flooding in Utah and urged the agency to work closely with the state to minimize any damage.

“Our state has weathered and overcome the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us before, and I am confident we will do so again working closely with FEMA,” said Hatch, explaining why he wrote FEMA Director Craig Fugate today and has been in close contact with the agency. “The snowpack in our mountains is at record levels, and the potential for flooding looms large. While we hope for the best, it is critically important that we and federal emergency management officials are prepared. I am doing everything I can at the federal level to ensure that happens.”

Utah experienced devastating floods in 1983, 2005 and, most recently, in December 2010. Hatch said the state is much better prepared than in the past to stem the tide of record runoff, but added the potential for problems still exist when the weather heats up because of the unprecedented amount of snow in Utah’s mountains.

Hatch’s letter to FEMA Director Craig Fugate follows:

The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I greatly appreciate the critical flood response FEMA has provided to Utah over the years.В  The assistance to my state after the devastating flooding that occurred in 2005 has minimized damage during subsequent flooding, most recently in December of 2010.

As you may know, Utah has experienced a long, wet winter, which has created an abnormally large snowpack. While the large amount of snow has benefited Utah’s economy, through tourism and outdoor recreation, the all but certain negative effects of rapid snowmelt pose a serious threat to life and property. The hot summer temperatures will soon melt the snow in Utah’s mountains at a rapid rate. This will cause flooding and we are facing the possibility of several devastating flood events.

It is my hope that this crisis is averted through a slow, drawn-out snowmelt. But if the unfortunate occurs, I hope FEMA and the State of Utah will be able to work together closely to ensure the damage is minimal.

Thank you very much for your attention on this matter.

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