Santa Clara awaits FEMA funding for Truman Drive landslide

The Santa Clara Town Hall, Santa Clara, Utah, Sept. 17, 2014 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – At the Santa Clara City Council public meeting Wednesday night, Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg presented an update on the Truman Drive landslide situation, which currently threatens 10 homes in the Santa Clara Heights area.

“These homes are extremely high risk,” Rosenberg said. “The government’s willing to come in and help.”

A Santa Clara resident addresses the city council about sliding on her property, Santa Clara, Utah, Sept. 17, 2014 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News
A Santa Clara resident addresses the city council about landslide damage on her property, Santa Clara, Utah, Sept. 17, 2014 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News

In July, Santa Clara City applied for a predisaster mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that, if approved, would fund 75 percent of a plan to address the landslide in the Truman Drive area; the city would have to provide the other 25 percent of the funding.

In the past, the insurance company for the city has purchased at least three high-risk homes in the landslide area, Rosenberg said. If funding for the new proposed plan goes through, the city will purchase additional properties in the slide area that are extremely high-risk, relocating at least one family. One newly purchased home and another structure already owned by the city will be torn down; some of the overburden material at the top of the slide area will be graded to remove weight; and an earthen berm will be built at the base of the slope to provide stability.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to stabilize the face of the slide to where we can remove the other homes up there from risk,” Rosenberg said. “That’s the intent.”

Part of the FEMA grant money would also be used proactively to implement monitoring measures on the slope adjacent to the landslide, in an area that could become a problem in the future.

The Truman Drive landslide has been moving and posing problems for Santa Clara residents since the early 1980s, Rosenberg said. The slide is being triggered by groundwater that is very deep and could extend back as far as Ivins, he said. Several studies of the slide area have been conducted over the years and several repairs have been attempted.

“It’s something that’s kind of plagued the city for a long time,” he said.

Those whose threatened homes and properties are purchased by the city have to be willing sellers, Rosenberg said. Their properties are appraised through a federal government process, and the appraised price is the price they receive – there is no negotiating. He said some property owners recognize that since their properties are going to be lost anyway, it’s better to get what they can for their homes and lands than to get nothing at all.

“Some of them, I think, understand that,” he said. “Some of them, they’re looking for somebody to blame.”

Read St. George News March 2013 report here: Santa Clara Heights landslide: 30 years of problems, no solution in sight

During the meeting, after the mayor presented updated information about the slide situation and the grant process, one woman stood and expressed her dissatisfaction that the city hasn’t offered to purchase her property. In an interview after the meeting, Rosenberg said the woman’s home is not located in the Truman Drive slide area and no studies have yet been conducted in the area where her property is located.

“We know we’ve got a serious problem at Truman,” Rosenberg said, “so the effort right now is being focused at Truman.”

“We’re trying to do what we can,” he added. “We don’t have the funding, the budget to buy all the homes.”

The city anticipates that approval notice regarding the FEMA grant will be received in late October.

“If we don’t get this grant, we’ll continue to pursue what other options we can,” Rosenberg said.

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  • Koolaid September 18, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    The biggest haters of the Federal Government think they are worthy of Federal Government handouts?

  • Bender September 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Mayor Rosenberg, Senator Mike Lee requests that we hold this money up until a like amount is cut from elsewhere in the federal budget. The VA budget seems bloated. Take it from there? No? Where can we get the money then? Tax rates on the wealthy are near lows not seen in almost a century but we can’t ask these job creators to shoulder their fair share.

  • I LIKE CAKE October 1, 2014 at 9:29 am


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