Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Jayel Kirby was 15 when her summer youth group volunteered to fill sandbags that would be used to create a river down the streets of Salt Lake City during the infamous flood in 1983.

More importantly for her, though, it was while filling sandbags that she met the man she would go on to marry.

“There were around 80 youth out here, and that’s where we met,” Jayel Kirby said. “I was one of the five girls. I took one look at him and he knocked my socks off.”

When asked if he remembers it the same way, Michael Kirby laughed and said, “Not really.”

“They had a bunch of the youth out here and we came out here every day for about four weeks, and that’s where we met,” he said. “We were sandbagging — doing the same thing right now — and it just kind of stuck.”

The couple spoke with while filling sandbags in the same place where they met 40 years ago, as the state braces for another round of flooding with rising temperatures melting Utah’s record snowpack.

“We saw the advertisement on Facebook asking for volunteers to come and sandbag,” Jayel Kirby said. “We saw the address and I was flipping out, thinking this is gonna be so exciting, we’ve got to redo this. It’s like nostalgia from 40 years ago. And so we’re here.”

While the area surrounding the Midvale Operations Public Works yard has changed in the intervening years, Michael Kirby said the biggest difference is how they feel while doing the work.

“It goes a little bit slower today,” he said. “I’ll probably need a lot of ibuprofen and rest tomorrow.”

“I’ve got a bad back, so he did most of the work,” Jayel Kirby said.

But 40 years later, the couple has still got it. They filled around 200 sandbags in just under two hours Friday morning, before leaving to babysit their three grandkids, including an 8-month-old.

“That all started 40 years ago, doing this right here,” Michael Kirby said.

“It’s the reason why you need to go out and help people,” Jayel Kirby said. “I mean, you build a community, but you can also meet people and you can start a …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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