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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Floods Leave Cedar City Residents And Students Displaced, As Officials Prepare For More Storms

A photo of a flooded apartment building in Cedar City.
Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards
Apartments near Southern Utah University, as well as other nearby residences and businesses, flooded Monday because of heavy rain. Around 200 students were displaced.

Cedar City was hit Monday by what local leaders are calling a “once every 500-years” flood. Within an hour, nearly two inches of rain fell leaving businesses and homes damaged.

Rodrick Ward moved into his apartment Monday ahead of his senior year at Southern Utah University. He plays football and was living on the lowest level of an apartment building near campus.

His family was there helping him earlier in the day. After they stocked his fridge and got his furniture in place, his father, Rodrick Ward Sr., said they started driving home to California. An hour and a half into their trip, Ward Sr. said he got a call from his son.

“He called us and was like, ‘Hey Dad, my apartment's flooding,’” Ward Sr. said, “He had [us on] FaceTime just kind of showing us. And then a few minutes later, he called back, he's like, ‘I lost everything, including my car.’ We [were] just like, ‘How could that be?’”

Ward said he had to basically swim his way out of his home. Standing outside of it Tuesday morning, almost all of his stuff had been removed and mud still filled the rooms.

“It sucks,” he said surveying the scene, “I lost my TV — I can see my PlayStation right now. I spent a lot of money on my PlayStation. Most of my shoes are damaged and I spent a lot of money on those. My clothes are all gone. So I really have nothing but just basically me.”

Ward is one of around 200 students displaced because of flooding, according to SUU Interim President Mindy Benson. She said school officials will keep them in student housing for at least 30 days while they try to repair the damaged buildings or find alternative housing.

George Colson, the emergency manager for Iron County, said the area hasn’t seen any flooding in a few years and they weren’t prepared for this event.

“Nothing much happens in Iron County to disturb our quiet lifestyle, and I think this is just a shock,” he said. “We were worried about fires for weeks on end and instead of burning up now we're going to drown.”

As residents and officials inspect the damage from Monday’s storm, they’re also preparing for more rain later this week. Local leaders said they have sandbags for residents.

Iron County Commissioner Mike Bleak said they’ve declared a state of emergency to help people throughout the county. Cedar City declared one Monday afternoon.

“Hopefully we have a break for a couple of days,” Bleak said. “And then later this week and early in the weekend, we're expecting more severe weather. Our goal is to fill all 20,000 of those sandbags and have them available or deployed before we get hit again to mitigate some of that damage to our infrastructure and our citizens.”

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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