(HELENA) Helena Valley residents preparing for flooding can currently collect sand, free of charge, at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.
The Elkhorn Community Organizations Active in Disaster, or COAD, placed two piles of sand northeast of the Exhibit Hall. Currently, residents will have to provide their own sandbags.
COAD chair Joe Wojton said there should be enough sand currently available to fill at least 1,000 bags. He said the COAD had sand ready to go, and decided to release it when they saw wet weather in the forecast. They are keeping more in reserve, in case they need to respond to more serious flooding later in the year.
The sand was donated by Valley Sand and Gravel, and LDS Charities paid to transport it to the fairgrounds.
The COAD consists of a number of local organizations – including the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the YWCA and the United Way – that provide services after disasters. They work closely with emergency management coordinators in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater and Jefferson Counties.
“It allows the county to make one phone call and say ‘These are the things I need,’” said Wojton. “Then we activate our appropriate organizations.”
Wojton said the COAD was able to hold off on distributing their donated sand because so many other organizations around the area held their own volunteer sandbag distributions.
“Helena’s a fantastic community,” he said. “No matter if it’s flood, fires, social services, whatever, the Helena community really seems to step up and donate and help provide for the citizens of the community.”
The COAD currently has enough donations to meet its needs. If they do need additional help, they will send out a notification through the county.
Wojton asked the public to keep an eye out for more updates from the COAD, especially if the risk of flooding rises. Information will be available through local media and on the COAD’s Facebook page or the Lewis and Clark County Emergency Management page.