July 20, 2024

These Utah counties will get federal funds to help recover from flooding

Gov. Spencer Cox declared an emergency in April. And now, President Joe Biden has approved five Utah counties to receive federal money to help make disaster repairs.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox is joined by officials from numerous state agencies during a news conference in Salt Lake City to give an update on flooding conditions and the monitoring taking place on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Five Utah counties have qualified for federal disaster relief.

Months after the melting of Utah’s historic snowpack washed out roads, caused concerns of widespread flooding and led Gov. Spencer Cox to declare an emergency, some counties will now see some relief.

Iron, Morgan, Sanpete, Utah and Wasatch counties were approved to receive federal emergency funds for damage sustained between May 1 and May 27, according to a White House news release. The funds — approved by President Joe Biden — will go toward repairing public infrastructure, like roads and storm drains, damaged during the runoff.

The total dollar amount the state could receive is up in the air, as the federal approval is just the beginning in the process, said Wade Mathews, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. Neither the state nor the counties have received federal funds yet — and there is no single check the counties or the state receives to pay for the damages.

Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Quin Fackrell told The Salt Lake Tribune that the county will use much of the funds toward reimbursing repairs that have already been made or to pay for repairs and cleanup that have yet to happen.

For example, he said, federal funding could help fix damage to the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway and emergency repairs to Spanish Fork’s culinary water systems.

In Iron County, much of the damage from flooding — like washed-out roads and damaged culverts — has already been repaired, according to the county’s emergency manager George Colson. The county saw the most damage near its southwest boundary, Colson said, as well as in nearby Hamlin Valley.

Mathews said the state applied for relief across a wider time frame and with 11 counties, but anything from the federal government helps.

“We’re just glad to have received approval,” Mathews said. “Getting something is better than nothing.”

The five counties approved by the Biden administration saw around $16 million in damages from flooding, he said, though that number is a preliminary estimate by the state that could change.

Fackrell said state and local governments will begin working closely in the coming weeks and months to approve the repairs or reimbursements.

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