Cars abandoned after flooding in Midvale underpasses

Posted at 8:10 PM, Jul 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-29 00:35:40-04

MIDVALE, Utah -- A handful of drivers had to abandon their cars in flooded waters in Midvale Monday night, after two underpasses suffered flooding.

The city says it all could have been avoided.

The flooding took place at the intersections of 8000 South and Center Street. One woman with a baby said the water was up to her seat. Civilians had to pull her and the baby to safety in waist deep waters. Most of the cars had to be towed out.

"I was on the phone calling for help and I heard the water sinking through and I looked down and it was just filling up,” said Jessica Kader.

City officials say this happens every year and it can typically be avoided if they had access to the pumps, but only Utah Department of Transportation does.

The pumps work on an alternating system, and on Monday that wasn't enough because there was so much rain in such a short amount of time, according to UDOT.

Both pumps needed to be on. By the time UDOT crews arrived on scene to run both pumps simultaneously, the underpasses had already flooded.

"The thing the city of Midvale can't figure out or they don't get an answer from UDOT is ‘why don't they allow some of the Midvale officials or public works to have access to the pumps,’ because if the switch was on this wouldn't happen," said City Councilman Wayne Sharp.

Public Works Director Ken Vance said it took him 30 minutes just to get in contact with UDOT, and then another 30 minutes for them to turn on the second pump, which can only be accessed with a key.

"We'd love to have access to turn these pumps on, that's what we are here for, we want to turn the pumps on so we can take care of the problem that would save a tremendous amount of time not just for us but the citizens,” Vance said.

UDOT did not give an official answer as to why Midvale does not have access to the pumps. However, they did say the pumps, which are owned by UDOT, are very sensitive, high-tech, pieces of equipment that cost tens of thousands of dollars and they prefer to keep them in their own control.