HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock toured some of the areas hit hardest by the flooding in the Helena Valley on Tuesday.
Lewis and Clark County leaders briefed Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney on how they’re dealing with the flooding.
Reese Martin, the county’s disaster and emergency services coordinator, said it’s still too early to determine how many homes have been affected by the flooding. He said they have already given out about 38,000 sandbags and about 600 tons of sand.
Megan Syner, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said weather so far has not been the “worst-case scenario” they feared. But she said there is still a substantial snowpack remaining in the local mountains, and a warm-weather pattern could still bring much of that water into the valley areas. She said the chance of flooding could continue well into June.
Bullock and Cooney then visited a spot on Sierra Road, near Rossiter Elementary School, where the county is using two large rented pumps to clear some of the floodwaters. The water is directed into a ditch system that connects with the D2 Drain, leading to Lake Helena. Each pump can move about 3 million gallons a day.
Last week, Bullock declared a statewide emergency in response to the flooding that has occurred – and could still occur – in Montana. He said the state will be looking for ways to provide any additional help that’s needed.
“We do have resources that our Disaster and Emergency Services can provide local responders, everything from the ability to get additional sandbags for infrastructure to additional pumps,” he said. “We just have to make sure that we remain in constant communication, to ensure that we are providing the resources that can provide assistance at a time like this.”
Bullock said he’s been impressed with the efforts of volunteers around the Helena area – from filling sandbags to making donations for affected families.
“As Montanans, we’re always willing to pitch in for our friends and our neighbors,” he said. “It’s great to hear the spirit of volunteerism.”
Bullock asked everyone in areas affected by flooding to remain careful around the water, pay attention to road closures and take photos of their property in case they need to make a flood damage claim.
“We’ve also got to recognize that this could still go on for a while more, so we’ve got to be vigilant,” he said.