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Governor issues state of emergency as southern Utah flood damage assessment, cleanup continues

Posted at 7:26 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 23:14:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox has declared a state of emergency because of flooding in southern Utah.

The declaration, issued late Tuesday, covers the flooding in Grand, Emery and Wayne counties. It allows the state to offer assistance to local governments in communities impacted by the damage.

"We’ve seen destructive flash floods tear through communities, damage homes and businesses, and endanger lives throughout southern Utah. State government remains ready to offer emergency coordination and expertise as these areas recover and rebuild," the governor said in a statement.

The state of emergency declaration is good for 30 days unless it is extended by the Utah State Legislature (laws were changed in the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the governor's state of emergency powers).

Utah's Division of Emergency Management was dispatched to Moab on Tuesday. Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson also visited the community and met with Moab Mayor Joette Langianese, city council members, the Grand County Commission. She visited businesses that were still cleaning up from the damage of the weekend's flooding.

"I’m shocked by the size and scope of the flooding that swept through Moab causing damage to homes, businesses, and local infrastructure," Lt. Gov. Henderson said in a statement late Tuesday. "Fortunately, I’m hopeful for a full recovery. Moab is open for business and the cleanup is well underway. If you want to help, here’s how: Visit Moab. Locals need your business and support – now more than ever."

Many of the businesses, such as hotels, had feet of water and debris inside some of their rooms.

"A lot of the businesses there on Main Street are at least affected," said Community Support Liaison Whitney Coonrod from the Utah Department of Emergency Management.

"Homes we have a lot of people that are definitely affected, I heard today that there are at least 10 families that are displaced, we have a couple of homes that are being condemned," she said.

According to Coonrod, roughly 15 of the businesses suffered "major" damage that would require more than cosmetic repairs.

In his statement, Gov. Cox also extended condolences to a hiker killed in flooding in Zion National Park.

"We also urge everyone to take flash flood warnings very seriously. We mourn the loss of Jetal Agnihotri of Tucson and pray for her loved ones. About 170 individuals spent 1,700 hours on search and rescue and we can’t thank them enough for their relentless efforts," he said.

Read the state of emergency declaration here: