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A late-August monsoon triggered flash flooding, waterlogged roadways and opened at least three sinkholes on Sunday night in St. George, Utah — an astounding display of “the power of Mother Nature,” Gov. Gary Herbert said.
Herbert visited the hub city of southern Utah on Monday to assess whether the storm damage warranted an emergency declaration, which would unlock additional funds for recovery. St. George Mayor Jon Pike issued a local state of emergency.
The largest of those sinkholes swallowed a vehicle near a Ramada by Wyndham hotel, city spokesperson David Cordero told The Spectrum & Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Several underpasses and roads also flooded, leading to a number of stalled cars and closed roads in low lying areas.
“It hit us pretty hard last night,” Cordero said. “We had emergency personnel working to mitigate the damage that was happening and also help safety-wise.”
A car comes to rest between I-15 and the Dixie Convention Center after flood water moved barricades and washed away the shoulder Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (Photo: Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News)
It’s not yet clear what caused the ground to collapse in those areas.
“The biggest challenge I think is just assessing the loss, the damage,” Herbert said. “There are certain thresholds that have to be met in order for us to trigger state and federal funds — so that’s yet to be determined until those assessments are done.”
Herbert and his entourage, which included Pike and state Sen. Don Ipson, also visited Dixie State University, which reported flooding in the basements of some buildings.
Pike said city crews are still working to assess the damage from Sunday’s storm. It wasn’t until Monday morning, for example, when the city learned of “significant” damage at the St. George branch of the Washington County Library, the mayor said.
“I’m encouraged it wasn’t worse,” Pike said. “But we will probably need some help with what has happened.”
In addition to damage on public property, Herbert estimated 15 to 20 private homes were flooded during the storm.
The governor estimated damages at about $500,000. The city, state and private sector will work “hand-in-hand” to mitigate those repair costs, he said.
Sam Gross covers the outdoors and development in Southern Utah for The St. George Spectrum & Daily News.
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