HELENA – After destructive flooding last year, Lewis and Clark County officials are urging residents to start preparing for spring melt now.
County Engineer Dan Karlin, PE said the amount of water contained within the snowpack in the area is higher than normal for this time of the year.
“We know right now that in the last month or so we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of snow. We went from well below average to just above average in the valley, but in the mountains we’re still below,” said Karlin. “Right now we’re 4 inches of snow water equivalent below where we were last year.”
Karlin cautions the current snow water equivalent doesn’t mean there won’t be flooding.
People should start looking at their property and taking precautionary steps. Karlin said moving snow away buildings and forming a flood strategy plan with neighbors are good steps people can do now.
Karlin urges all residents to inspect their local culverts before and during snow melt.
“That culvert is your biggest defense. So make sure both ends of that are cleared out, allowing water to flow freely through there,” said Karlin. “Make sure there’s not a lot of debris, garbage, trash or other build up that can keep water from moving openly through those culverts.”
Residents should also know Lewis and Clark County will not be providing sandbags to individual homeowners this year.
Lewis and Clark County is working with the Valley Flood Committee to preemptively remove debris at five locations within Tenmile Creek. The County notes removing the minor debris will help prevent larger accumulations occurring on Tenmile Creek and reduces bank erosion.
The County is also working on flood mitigation efforts around North Montana Avenue by the Trap Club.
The mitigation efforts are a part of the Helena Valley Flood Mitigation Master Plan as an effort to reduce flooding impacts on residential homes.
They County will be creating better flow opportunity into the area by the Trap Club, replacing several problematic culverts and increase ditch size.
Funding for the project was made possible through $1,587,109 in FEMA grant money. Funding from the grants can only be used towards the specified mitigation efforts– not individual flood fighting.
Construction is tentatively slated to begin this summer once permits are approved.
Lewis and Clark County have been monitoring the snowpack in the Lincoln and Augusta communities and are working with local representatives to prepare for potential flooding.