FEMA rejects disaster relief funding request in wake of Iron County flooding

Local residents wade through floodwaters near Midvalley Road, Enoch, Utah, Aug. 1, 2021 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Despite the extensive damage caused by the recent monsoonal flooding in Iron County, city officials in both Cedar City and Enoch have learned that there will not be any federal disaster relief coming their way.

In a Facebook post Thursday on both her own and the city’s pages, Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has declined the city’s application for financial assistance, which was made in conjunction with Enoch City and Iron County.

“It was determined that there was not enough damage to public infrastructure in Cedar City for FEMA to provide any assistance,” Wilson-Edwards wrote in the post, adding, “As a result, Cedar City does not qualify for FEMA assistance for the clean up and repair of public infrastructure nor is (there) FEMA assistance for private property.”

As previously reported in Cedar City News, starting in mid-July and going into early August, afternoon thunderstorms pummeled several areas of Southern Utah, causing extensive flooding and property damage in parts of Cedar City, Enoch and unincorporated areas of Iron County. Heavy rains were even to blame for a freight train derailment near Lund on July 15.

Some areas in neighboring counties were also affected by flooding, notably Enterprise City, Springdale and Zion National Park in Washington County.

Flood damage in Enoch, Utah, Aug. 1, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Clint Chaston, St. George News / Cedar City News

Enoch Mayor Geoffrey Chesnut told Cedar City News on Friday that it was “disappointing” that the joint application from affected entities did not meet federal thresholds for emergency relief funds.

“It looks like we will continue the need to be self-sufficient as the millions of dollars of public infrastructure is fixed,” Chesnut said.

Chesnut also asked for the public’s continued patience “as our community strives to repair and mitigate from the devastating storms.”

Wilson-Edwards also said that Cedar City is looking into other ways to help residents and businesses impacted by the flooding.

One possibility might be low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, she said.

State emergency management officials are currently evaluating the damage to see if residents and businesses meet the criteria to qualify for SBA loans, Wilson-Edwards said, adding that an answer is expected within the next month.

As for public infrastructure, Cedar City is looking at other avenues to help pay for the necessary cleanup and repairs. The mayor said the city has applied for a matching grant to help pay for 75% cost of cleaning up the Coal Creek channel and restoring flood control measures.

Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson noted that many affected city residents have been helped by donations from the private sector.

Stacks of donated sheetrock await disbursement to Enoch residents affected by recent flooding, Enoch, Utah, August 2021 | Photo courtesy of Rob Dotson, St. George News / Cedar City News

For example, he said that a substantial amount of sheetrock was donated by both USG Sheetrock and LKL Associates, all of which has already been disbursed and most of which has been installed in homes, he said.

Many other companies have made generous donations of supplies and equipment, Dotson added, with some doing so anonymously.

Wilson-Edwards said Cedar City will keep striving to help residents with recovery efforts as much as it can.

“We will continue pursuing all available options and I will provide updates as I receive them,” she added.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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