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Forest Service warns of flooding risks near previous wildfire sites

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:01:31-04

HELENA – The USDA Forest Service is encouraging residents who have homes near burn scars to be prepared for unexpected flooding.

According to Forest Service officials flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored which can take up to five years after a wildfire.

Without vegetation to absorb rainfall and reduce runoff even light rain can lead to devastating flash flooding and mudflows.

Kathy Bushnell of the Forest Service says that people should be prepared for flooding at any time even beyond this current flooding the state is experiencing.

“One thing that’s actually more impactful to a burned area are the flashy abrupt summer storms and so those can be more impactful with any kind of debris runoff or mudslide,” says Bushnell.

Bushnell says residents should be proactive if they live by burn scars by making sure their culverts are cleaned out of any potential blockage.

If property owners are able, they should also clear any debris that may wash away from slash piles.

Being prepared is one of the best things anyone can do for a flooding event.

People should have a planned evacuation route, conduct a home inventory including taking picture of their valuables and keep important papers in a safe, waterproof place.