Augusta cleaning up but still ready for business after flooding

Posted at 8:38 PM, Jun 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-23 22:38:30-04

(HELENA) On Saturday, Augusta’s Main Street was full of activity, just a few days after floodwaters were running through the community.

“Things are getting back to normal pretty quick,” said Steve Ford, who owns Allen’s Manix Store, together with his wife Susan.

The height of the flooding came Tuesday, after days of heavy rain. Residents reported nearly a foot of water across Main Street.

Susan Ford said the water rose quickly.

“I came down to the store at 6 o’clock, and there was no water,” she said. “I looked out my door within 45 minutes and there was water running. So I got on the phone, called my husband and said, ‘You need to come home right now; we have a problem.’”

The Fords estimate they had about four feet of water in the store’s basement. It damaged a number of seasonal products they were storing there. Steve Ford found a large water heater had been lifted off the ground and was floating on the floodwater. They were still pumping water out of the basement by Saturday afternoon.

Susan Ford’s family has owned the store for more than 40 years. She believes this flood was the most serious they have faced since 1975.

This was scheduled to be the weekend of the annual Augusta Rodeo – one of the busiest times of the year for businesses in the area – but the floodwaters rushed across the rodeo grounds, forcing organizers to delay the event until July 21 and 22.

An American Legion volunteer was working Saturday to repair a chain-link fence that had its concrete footings torn out of the ground by the flood. He said they will most likely need to check all the bleachers for structural stability and bring in additional material to repair the arena surface.

Though the rodeo was delayed, other community events scheduled for the weekend went on as planned, including 5K and one-mile runs, a kids carnival and a street dance. The Augusta Area Chamber of Commerce also held an auction Saturday evening, to raise money to help neighbors affected by the flooding.

The Fords said they appreciate how the Augusta community came together to respond to the flood.

“There were 50 people up there filling sandbags, 20 people loading sandbags, other people putting sandbags on flat trucks and taking it wherever we needed it,” said Susan Ford. “The community support was huge, just huge.”

Ford said she’s hopeful that the flooding won’t discourage too many travelers from passing through the Augusta area this summer.

“Augusta’s open for business – we just have cleanup to do,” she said. “Put on your galoshes and rubber gloves and come visit us.”