HELENA NORTH VALLEY – On Monday, Lewis and Clark County and Disaster and Emergency Services officials held their first public meeting with residents since flooding began. However, what was supposed to be an update on flood mitigation and flood conditions turned into a venting session for frustrations with the county.
During the Q&A session following the briefing, area resident Korri Galbraith chided the county for poor management and said there needs to be a large overhaul of Helena’s north valley to make it more resilient to flooding.
Eric Griffin, Public Works Director for Lewis and Clark County, responded to Galbraith’s and others’ comments saying that no amount of preparation or changes will completely prevent flooding.
“The possibility of this will always be in this community,” Griffin said. “What we’re trying to do is control the water as best we can.”
County Commissioner Susan Good Geise said the county has spent upwards of $100,000 just to provide sandbags for residents in the area. Geise said the money comes from the county’s general fund, which also funds over 100 other county services. While she said the decision to end free sandbag distribution was unpopular, it was necessary.
According to the National Weather Service, water levels along Ten Mile Creek have dropped to around four feet after cresting at five, but there is still between 10 and 15 inches of water equivalent in the mountains around the North Valley. When that snow melts, the water can make its way to the valley and contribute to the flooding.
The Weather Service also expects more rain this week which could bring an additional half-inch of water to the area.
Disaster & Emergency Services coordinator Reese Martin is also asking residents affected by the flooding to fill out a survey. The results will be used if the Federal Emergency Management Agency is mobilized to provide financial assistance to homeowners. Martin said a link to that survey will be on the county website Tuesday.