ANACONDA – Winter has been harsh as of late in Montana, but it’s been particularly brutal to the little city of Anaconda.
“We’ve been the eye of the storm. Every storm that comes through seems to be landing right on Anaconda,” said Anaconda Chief Executive Bill Everett.
For nearly two weeks Anaconda road crews have been fighting a losing battle with the relentless snowfall trying to keep roads clear.
“Our average road employee in the last week is at about 100 hours per week total hours and there’s a point when a guy just has fatigue and exhaustion so we’re trying to line everybody up to get a day off,” said Everett.
The governor declared a state of emergency last week and brought in extra equipment to help clear the snow. The state will also reimburse Anaconda for the considerable expense, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The amount of fuel that we’ve gone through, as I saw some of the fuel bills compiling, is absolutely extraordinary, you know, each piece of equipment is going through a few hundred dollars of gas and diesel a day,” said Everett.
One of the five snow dump sites in Anaconda off of 5th Street is about as big as a city block. And engineers estimate that there’s a much as 5 million gallons of water in this site alone, which poses the next challenge for the city, which is how to manage all this water once it melts.
“When this starts to runoff is to clear all our storm drains and then whatever sheet flow we have along the surface to try to direct that to areas where it won’t impact private property and get it to the creek,” said Anaconda Public Works Director Chas Ariss.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News