Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From Fires to Flood, Wildland Firefighters are There!

BLM Aids in Santa Clara Flood Relief 
by Rachel Tueller

Mike Dargatz and AFMO Terry Swinscoe distributed Gatorade to volunteers.

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, residents of Washington County, Utah were shocked when monsoon rains resulted in a flood so severe that it caused more than 2.83 million dollars-worth of damage to the quiet neighboring community of Santa Clara. Flood waters that breached a nearby earthen dike resulted in the closure of area schools and caused damage to more than 61 homes and 16 businesses.

Chris Madrigal, Fuels Tech loading UTV
  The morning following the incident, the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) Arizona Strip District joined throngs of individual residents, private businesses and numerous agencies that poured into the community's Incident Command center by the hour to offer assistance. The city's Incident Commander directed BLM staff to a location at the Town Hall where surplus Gatorade from the 2012 fire season could be distributed to help relieve volunteers who'd been working late through the night and continued into the morning hours.

Michelle Petty, Fire Logistics 
Fire crews also offered the Incident Commander assistance through man-power which the IC eagerly and affirmatively responded to. The IC directed the small crew to a nearby neighborhood where they were able to assist a family whose business, a fully operational preschool, was located in the basement of their home. The home and business owner was relieved and excited to see a fire crew appear at her doorstep as she indicated that there were heavy objects located in the basement that she and other volunteers sorely needed help with. With a clear reddish brown mud line reaching five feet high in the basement, removing the items from the basement required a great deal of effort. More than 50 volunteers that included Dixie State College students, evacuated high school students, soldiers from the Army and Navy, fellow parishioners, and family, friends and neighbors worked steadily through the heat of the at the residential business. Volunteers were asked to haul items from the preschool out to the lawn so owner could sort, clean and/or dispose of the items. Each home in within the flood zone had crews of similar sizes assisting flood victims in mop up efforts.

Brad Danduran aiding flood victims in clean-up efforts. 

Members of the crew helping with clean-up efforts.
Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenburg toured the incident zone with officials from the NRCS, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in hopes that the agencies might rebuild the dike in Tuacahn Wash. A 40 foot high gap is now present in the dike which was compromised by the pressure from the large amount of water and debris that coursed down Tuacahn Wash in what officials are calling "more than a one hundred year flood." While no structures were completely lost, due to the extent and severity of the damages caused by the flood, officials anticipate relief efforts and volunteer assistance will be a continual need for several days.
This post is a reprint from The BLM Daily, an internal publication. Rachel Tueller is a Public Affairs Officer with the BLM Arizona Strip District.

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