r South Utah County communities are again bracing for disaster after the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires devastated the foothill vegetation last month. The Bald Mountain fire is 100 percent contained and the Pole Creek fire is over 80 percent contained with full containment expected on October 10. The danger now in the burn-scarred area is flooding.
Rain is expected this week, bringing with it the possibility of flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow in the area because there is no vegetation left to absorb and slow the runoff from a heavy rainstorm.
Local residents, who overwhelmed fire evacuees and firefighters with donations during the height of the fire, have again responded to the call for help in extraordinary numbers.
Payson City sent calls and texts to residents in the late afternoon on October 1 to come and help fill sandbags at the ballpark. They hoped to fill 6,000 sandbags. According to reports from residents, over 1,000 people came and 18,000 sandbags were filled.
Those bags will be available for use in any of the surrounding areas in danger. Bags were also filled in Woodland Hills and Elk Ridge. Local businesses have also donated resources to help fill sandbags, shore up berms, and clear debris from areas where it poses a threat.
The Utah National Guard was activated October 1 to assist the area in preparation for potential Utah County flooding due to heavy rainfall forecasts. Approximately 200 Soldiers with the Utah National Guard’s 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 300th Military Intelligence Brigade are currently reporting under State Active Duty to assist in flood mitigation efforts
“We are prepared to assist the governor as needed by preparing in advance for any potential flooding that may occur,” said Utah National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton. “Hopefully there is little need for flood response efforts, but we are prepared now to react quickly if called.”
Protection efforts include bulldozer and loader-equipment-blade teams to build flood berms, sandbagging, Jersey barrier placement and other equipment operations as needed based on the location of potential flooding.