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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

West Jordan, Murray residents search for answers after flooding

By Whitney Evans, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Aug. 20 6:20 p.m. MDT

 The baseball field at Constitution Park in West Jordan remains flooded even after floodwaters receded from several homes near the intersection of 3200 West and 6920 South, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

The baseball field at Constitution Park in West Jordan remains flooded even after floodwaters receded from several homes near the intersection of 3200 West and 6920 South, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

(Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)

MURRAY — A faint outline on purple and black paper is all that can be seen of what once was a draft document of the Provo City Center Temple.

Ink covered the pages of former architectural drafter Kiersten Davis' professional portfolio. Once kept in the basement of her Murray home, it now sat waterlogged inside a full garbage can outside after a heavy storm swept through the area Wednesday morning.

Her husband, Mark Davis, said he called the city but was told the person he needed to speak with was out of the office. He said he hopes city engineers will check out the grade of the road, possibly raise the height of the curbs in the neighborhood, install additional storm drains in his area or simply give him pointers on how to avoid this same situation in the future.

“I think with my little drainage systems, I could have handled the amount of rain that landed on my property, but when we’re talking about handling all of the water coming down from the road and other people’s yards, yeah, there’s no way my little drainage system could handle that,” he said.

About an inch of rain fell in some areas in the valley between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank. It flooded more than 20 homes combined in Murray and West Jordan. Homeowners looked to city officials for answers. In both cases, officials said they were looking for answers but pointed to extreme weather as the cause.

West Jordan

Flooded homes on 6920 South were evident Wednesday by miscellaneous items drying in the sun outside as well as by the sound of machinery removing water from inside.

An estimated 17 homes were flooded and some residents in the city were calling on city officials to fix what they see as a recurring problem.

"West Jordan says every year, 'It's fixed. It's fixed,'" said Jeff Cassity who lives in the basement of a home that flooded. "When you're standing in knee-deep of water, how is that fixed?"

He and other residents pointed to the drainage system at Constitution Park, 7000 S. 3200 West, as being the cause of the flooding.

The park is one of many in the area with storm detention systems designed to collect water in the event of a large storm. They are connected to the storm drains that empty into a nearby canal. A gate valve leading to the storm drains was closed Tuesday in anticipation of the storm so that the drains were not overrun with water. Crews reopened the drains at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after the rain had stopped, according to West Jordan spokeswoman Kim Wells. Any flooding that occurred Wednesday was the result of the weather, not a failure on the city's part, she said.

Two homes that flooded Wednesday — at 3230 W. 6960 South and 3220 W. 6920 South — have been in this situation multiple times. A Google Maps Street View shot taken in August 2011 shows sandbags in front of both properties.

"We just don't know what to do. We can't even use the bottom half of our house because we know this is a risk," said Lindy Christensen who lives at 3220 W. 6920 South with her husband and daughter. "This is everything we have. When we moved in, we didn't know this would happen and it happened right after we got here. We don't have any choice. What can we do?"

A toddler-size shirt with monkeys in sunglasses lay drying in the sun on the concrete porch of her home beside an equally small pair of pajama pants, shoes and other soggy items. Nathan Christensen said he pays several hundred to more than a thousand dollars each time the basement floods to clean it up. About a half-dozen sandbags sat at the top of the driveway, apparently unsuccessful in keeping water out of the house.

"It's just time for (the city) to fix their problem," he said Wednesday.

City officials say they have been and are working on solutions to the problem. Since 2005, the city has spent $12,515,879 on stormwater improvement projects and has almost $2.3 million budgeted for the upcoming year, according to Wells.

Interim City Manager Bryce Haderlie was visiting with Barbara Backman, mother-in-law of the homeowners with regular flooding on 3230 W. 6960 South, Wednesday. She could be heard telling him that the residents see the city as "the bully on the block." She later said she realizes that Haderlie is new to the position and was willing to cut him some slack.

Haderlie was apologetic but insisted, "We did everything we could." He said the city will continue to look into ways to alleviate future storm drain problems.

The city's storm drains were tested again Wednesday evening when another storm rolled in, depositing another 0.3 inches of rain.

Murray

The Davis family has lived in their home for only a couple of months. The previous owner warned them that the home flooded after a water main break a year ago, but they were not prepared for the several inches of water that came into their basement after Tuesday night's rain.

The Davises' home lies to the northwest of an inclined road that forks in two directions. Water from Wednesday morning's storm diverted both ways, flooding a home a few doors up and running down the Davises' sloped driveway and into their garage and basement.

Flooding hit a few areas in Murray as well, with the Davises' neighborhood seeing six to eight homes impacted by the downpour, according to Jan Wells, Murray's chief administrative officer. Engineers, storm drain specialists and insurance adjusters were out Wednesday investigating the wake of the storm. While some homes with inclined driveways will likely continue to "have problems," she said, the city is doing the "best we can" to understand the situation.

Contributing: Shara Park

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

Recommended
1. wer
South Jordan, UT,
Aug. 20, 2014

About one inch of rain fell and city officials are blaming the flooding on "extreme weather" (their term).

There needs to be some changes mad fast if one inch can cause this much damage!

2. trekker
Salt Lake, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Here is an idea design our drainage systems to meet the same standards of back east. Where rain fall is is heavy all year.

3. G-Day-M8
Where is Waldo, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Wer

May I suggest you buy flood insurance. An inch of rain in a few minutes is not typical in this arid state and can overwhelm the storm drain system not designed for a state such as Washington. The soil in West Jordan and South Jordan is mostly dense clay and cannot drain as fast as other areas of the valley. West Jordan averages only .61 inches of rain the whole month of July and only 16.1 inches the entire year.

This was a very heavy rain, concentrated in a small area, in a short time.

It may happen to you next.

4. Utah Keith
Roy, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Here is a brilliant idea, if you live in an area where flooding is a common issue, A. get flood insurance or B. Install a Sump Pump or C. Do Both. We lived in Murray along the creek and rented an apartment. When it had possible flood issues, we decided living where we lived we could afford a mortgage, so that is exactly what we did, bought a home instead. It had a flood problem a couple years ago in the spring. Put in a Sump Pump and have not had problems since unless the kids turn on the capped front hose faucet and it leaks for a couple days. Then I have had some small leakage in the basement. Don't cry to the city about YOUR PROBLEMS, be proactive and do what you can for yourself! It's not like you live in low income towns or something. If the CITY won't FIX the Problem then run the SUMP into the SEWER! That will save you loads of Dough and the project will only cost you a couple hundred.

5. trekker
Salt Lake, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

At least West Jordan can have Lake Constitution (formally Constitution Park) without all the HOA fees like Day Break.