Crews have been working to fix the city’s waterlines, which were damaged during the flood, pictured here behind the Gonzo Inn in September 2022. [Alison Harford/Moab Sun News]

In August 2022, following a particularly volatile monsoon season, Mill Creek flash flooded in a record-setting event. Flood waters quickly overtook multiple bridges in town, washed sand and mud into the streets, and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to businesses and homes. Months later, the City of Moab is still rebuilding. 

The city was recently denied federal disaster relief assistance funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; it must now rely on funds from its insurance provider to cover the costs of fixing the damage. The city has received $2,200,000 from the insurance trust and has thus far spent $1,700,000. 

During the March 14 City Council meeting, City Engineer Chuck Williams outlined the current projects underway. 

“FEMA will tell you that the public and staff’s timeframe is only six months after a large flood before everyone just wants to be done with it,” Williams said. “They forget how bad it was, how powerful it was. I get that, but the reality is that improvements typically take a year or two years after a flood of that magnitude to get done. And that’s what we’re looking at for some of this work … but I think we’re making progress.” 

The first project: waterline repairs at 100 West and 400 East. Both waterlines are thus far operational, but asphalt patching and sidewalk and guardrail fixes are still forthcoming. 

The city is also undertaking a project to protect the in-town bridges from flood-caused debris- scouring for at least a year and a half with strategically placed rocks. This is a temporary measure; the year and a half will provide the city with time to create a permanent bridge stabilization fix. Work began today to place rocks at the 400 East bridge, up next are 300 South, 100 West, and 500 West. Williams estimated this project will take place over the next three weeks or so. 

“If we were to get another flood of any magnitude—it doesn’t have to be like last August’s flood—we need to have that riprap there because a lot of it [that was there] was washed away,” Williams said. “Riprap” refers to permanent rocky material placed along shorelines to “armor” the soil and protect against erosion. “… It’s going to be somewhere between 500 and 800 yards of riprap that we’re putting in.” 

For more permanent fixes, Williams said the city has three engineering contacts to be signed soon that will include bridge analysis work and new designs.

Next up, the city wants to repair the Mill Creek Parkway, which was severely damaged in the flood event. The city plans to fix or install new hardware on the sidewalk, handrail, retaining walls, and pedestrian bridges. But, Williams said, the Parkway repairs will have to go to bid—the city’s engineering department staff have “done a great job, but they’ve pretty much done all they can do with the equipment and time that they have.” 

Fixes for the pedestrian bridge off Kane Creek Boulevard will go out to bid in April. The cost estimate for that project is around $300,000 for the bridge and $160,000 for stream improvements like debris clean-up and erosion control. 

The city applied for funds from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which is part of the Natural Resources Conservation Science sector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was approved. That money will go toward fixing damages to private land and shoring up the channel of Mill Creek. 

Williams estimates the final cost of all flood repair projects will be around $3.5 to $4 million.