City Hall stocks up on sandbags |

City Hall stocks up on sandbags

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Public Works Department has filled 1,200 sandbags that could be used if flooding occurs during this spring’s snowmelt.

There have not been major problems reported, but much of the snow remains in the mountains. Last weekend’s snowfall, meanwhile, added to the total at higher elevations at a time when snow usually is tapering off for the winter.

Pace Erickson, who directs the operations in the Public Works Department, said officials have a few thousand unfilled sandbags as well. The 1,200 were filled approximately a month ago.

"Flooding can happen anytime. You can get flash floods," Erickson said.

The sandbags are available to Park City residents and people with businesses in the city. Proof of eligibility is required. A City Hall release said people who manage properties must identify the location when they pick up sandbags.

The release, meanwhile, said Parkites "are requested out of respect of others who may need them to not hoard or stockpile sandbags for future use."

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Sandbags are available at the Public Works Department, 1053 Iron Horse Drive. The phone number is 615-5301.

People may receive up to 25 sandbags for free. The cost rises to 75 cents per sandbag from 26 to 50. If someone wants more than 50, they must fill the bags themselves with sand supplied by the Public Works Department. The cost is 50 cents per bag for more than 50.

The Public Works Department will not fill the sandbags to order unless there is severe flooding. The department will not deliver sandbags.

Erickson said he is aware of one inquiry about sandbags, but he was unsure whether the person picked up any.

The department, worried about isolated flooding, put out approximately 12 sandbags in mid-April, with some of them on Park Avenue close to the 1400 block of the street.

Erickson said flooding, if it occurs, would most likely be along streambeds at points with lots of vegetation that could dam up the water. He said trash in streambeds could also cause the waterways to flood. Poison Creek and McLeod Creek are the two primary waterways inside the city. Poison Creek suffered a major flood in 2004, with damage to houses on the upper reaches of Main Street, but that episode was blamed on a heavy thunderstorm, not melting snow.

Erickson said he anticipates stream flows caused by melting snow will peak in the second or third week of May.

Information from the Summit County Public Works Department was not immediately available.

A National Weather Service water expert who monitors snow pack in Utah said this week the amount of snow in the area’s mountains is 124 percent of normal for this time of year. Brian McInerney said, though, he does not anticipate flooding in Park City during the snowmelt.

"We should be OK," he said, adding that a powerful thunderstorm could cause the waterways to jump their banks.

He also cautioned that the snow pack has increased since late March. If temperatures warm up quickly, the snowmelt will be rapid and the water will drain into the streams, he said.

McInerney pointed to 1983, when late-season snow followed by a rapid warming caused terrible flooding in northern Utah.

Meanwhile, the Park City Public Works Department is seeking volunteers to assist if a flood strikes. Interested people may provide contact information and availability for an assignment. Forms are available at the front desk of the Public Works Department on Iron Horse Drive.