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Cottonwood Heights residents fill sandbags as creek levels rise

SALT LAKE CITY - Hot temperatures are driving a big rise in water levels for rivers and creeks in Utah.

In Cottonwood Heights, people are already lining their properties with sandbags in the fight to stay dry.

“Five years ago I had water lapping up, I was four sandbags high and it came up to the first row of sandbags,” said homeowner Perry Bolyard.

Perry Bolyard knows what this rushing water is capable of.

“I’ve known people that have tried tubing the river in the high water, and I know a couple of lives that were lost because of that; it’s just a very dangerous,” Bolyard said.

To keep residents along creeks in Cottonwood Heights safe, the city and community volunteers are stepping in.

“We've built probably about 5,000 sandbags, and we've distributed some of those out to the locations we believe would be first impacted,” said Mike Halligan, Emergency Manager for Cottonwood Heights.

Halligan said the city’s strategy is to stay ahead of the game. The most runoff is expected in June, but all it takes is a few warm days in a row for the water to rise significantly.

Residents say the creek looks to have twice as much water in it Saturday as it did on Friday.

At the nearest measurement station at Crestwood Park, the water has risen about a half a foot in the last day and a half. You can track the water level here.

“This isn't a surprise to us, it’s just now is the time to take action on all of the plans we've been talking about for the last three months,” Halligan said.

One thing is for sure, whether you live near a creek or plan to visit one, use caution.

“It’s fast and it’s very cold and there are some scary things about that, we want to make sure our residents are safe," Halligan said. "Be mindful of where children are, we want to make sure that they stay away from creeks."

As neighbors work together to put protections in place, they say it brings them together. They say they know it's better to be safe than sorry.

“Being on the creek is its own reward, and occasionally I guess these are the dues we pay to be there,” Bolyard said.

If you are worried about flooding in your area or are curious where you can find sandbags near you, contact your city’s emergency manager.