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Salt Lake County assesses windstorm damage, opens warming centers

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson showed known points of damage on a map during a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Photo: KSL NewsRadio via Facebook Live

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County officials reported “extensive damage” across northern Utah on Tuesday as local leaders continued to respond to a strong windstorm, announcing the availability of four warming centers as the winds continue to howl. And with a strong wind advisory in effect until Wednesday, more damage is expected. 

Mayor Jenny Wilson said Tuesday she expected the cleanup to take some time. 

“We have downed power lines. We have Rocky Mountain Power here to talk about that,” she said. 

Power outages and damage in Salt Lake County

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Spencer Hall said repairs may take time. “Power outages could extend for 48 to 72 hours,” he said. Hall emphasized checking on vulnerable neighbors as power outages continue.  

Wilson described seeing damage including downed trees and traffic signals, displaying a map that pinpointed areas of known damage in Salt Lake County. 

“People need to be really cautious. We don’t want people getting in the way of downed power lines,” Wilson said.

Hall added that while a down power line may look harmless, they can actually be energized that can be incredibly dangerous. His advice is to stay away from power lines. “We have hundreds if not thousands of crew members working to restore power,” said Hall. 

Salt Lake County Emergency Manager Clint Mecham echoed that caution, noting the windstorm is not yet over. 

“Even though the wind may die for a short period of time, it is expected to come back,” he said. He pointed out downed trees and other debris could be covering up power lines that residents may not see. 

Cleanup during COVID-19

Wilson said residents need to make sure that, while helping neighbors, they don’t also put themselves at risk. 

“It is COVID, still. That caution still needs to be in place — mask-wearing,” she added.  

According to Wilson, county residents can dispose of “green” debris — downed brush, branches or trees — at no charge at the landfill starting Friday for as long as needed. It was also mentioned that homeowners are responsible for cleaning up debris on private property. 

Warming centers available in four locations

Salt Lake County officials announced several warming centers will be available to area residents who have no power and need access to electricity and heat. Forecasters predict temperatures will stay unseasonably cool the next couple of nights. 

Two warming centers are in Salt Lake City, one in Millcreek, and one in West Valley City.

  • Northwest Recreation Center at 125 W Clark Av
  • Emerson Ward at 808 E Roosevelt Ave
  • Millcreek Community Center at 2266 E Evergreen Ave
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center at 3650 W 4400 S, West Valley City 

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox addressed reporters alongside Wilson after touring some of the damage. He said the state is evaluating whether to issue a statewide emergency declaration after Centerville and Salt Lake City declared emergencies. That decision could come this afternoon. 

Wilson said Salt Lake County is also evaluating whether to issue its own emergency declaration. 

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