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Flooding latest: sandbags available, shelter on standby

Posted at 7:04 PM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:00:24-04

EAST HELENA – Lewis and Clark County held its second press briefing of the week to update the community on the flooding. County leaders and area nonprofits said they are doing everything they can to mitigate the effects of the water. That means limiting some roads to emergency travel only as well as having a Red Cross shelter on standby for residents.

Fortunately, Sheriff Leo Dutton said no one has been injured or physically harmed by the flooding. The sheriff said its mostly been mentally taxing for people in the area and that tensions are running high among neighbors.

“Residents are frustrated, they’re tired and a little bit grumpy,” Dutton said.

One major source of frustration has been onlookers in the area that go too fast and create wakes in the water. Officials also sad the ground is highly saturated on many area roads, meaning they could give way at any time. Drives are urged to use extra caution or avoid flooded areas if at all possible.

One of the big focuses now for the county is putting pumps in place to move water.

“All the water in the Valley at this time, it flows to the D2 ditch, it flows underneath the interstate, it flows underneath the Frontage Road and then it heads towards Lake Helena, so we need to make sure that we don’t get a choke point down there so we’re in the process of working on that also too,” Eric Griffin, Public Works Director for Lewis and Clark County, said.

Sandbags have also been a big help preventing more damage to homes in property in flooded areas, but the county stopped providing those sandbags Friday due to the high costs.

Valley Sand and Gravel has since stepped in to provide sandbags for residents, though they won’t be entirely free. The sand is free, but residents will need to pay 50 cents for the bag, which is the same cost Valley Sand and Gravel pays for them.

Owner Brad Smith said they are longtime valley residents and wants to be there for neighbors.

“We’ve lived it, we’ve been through it, we know what it’s like. We’ve actually got four or five rentals right beside it that are flooding right now. So we know what it’s like and we just want to help as best we can,” Smith said.

Valley Sand and Gravel is located at 7510 Applegate Drive. If you have questions, you can call 459-9694. The Salvation Army is also providing free sand and sandbags at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds this weekend starting on Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Red Cross also has a shelter on standby at the First Assembly of God Church on on Dodge Ave. in Helena and Valley Veterinary Hospital on Montana Avenue will shelter pets for flood affected residents.

There will also be a public meeting about the flooding this coming Monday night at 7 pm. A location has not been determined.

The county has also set up a hot line to answer questions residents may have about the flooding. That number to call is 406-447-1605.

The hotline will be staffed until 7 p.m. Friday and will reopen Saturday morning.