Missoula County Disaster and Emergency Services sent out a press release May 2nd updating residents about local flooding and city and county resources.
• Localized flooding continues to affect areas west of Missoula, mainly in the Orchard Homes neighborhood along Tower Street and Kehrwald Drive, which remain closed to through traffic. The Tower Street trailhead also remains closed until further notice.
• In Seeley Lake, localized flooding has been reported along Airport Road near Deer Park Drive; on C Street and Cabin Lane off the southern end of Boy Scout Road; along the bridge on the north end of Boy Scout Road, over the Clearwater River; and along Highway 83 south of town, just south of the Double Arrow Resort.
• Current indicators of Clark Fork River flows now show a recession through Sunday, May 6, followed by a spike in flows next week, possibly exceeding the levels experienced this week. The National Weather Service regularly updates river flow forecasts on its website.
• County Commissioners will sign an emergency proclamation regarding flooding at their administrative meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 3, in Room 206 of the Administration Building. An emergency proclamation:
-Provides incident commanders in the field with the authority to close roads, prevent access to areas and order evacuations;
-Allows the County to request resources from the state and other agencies, either through no-cost mutual aid or through a contract for assistance;
-Allows the County to submit a request to the governor for assistance from the National Guard;
-Allows, in the case of flooding, for the County to request assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide technical assistance, protection of public infrastructure and/or provide sandbags to the County; and
-Allows the County to start tracking the impacts to the County and its residents as part of the process for determining if local, state or federal disaster declaration is warranted, which would be required to access federal funding for efforts to address a disaster, as well as potential mitigation to prevent the next occurrence.
• Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also issued an executive order today declaring a statewide flooding emergency, which allows him to expend state funding and mobilize resources and the Montana National Guard as necessary to protect life, health and property.
• The County highly encourages residents affected by flooding to consume bottled water until they can verify their tap water is safe to drink. The Missoula City-County Health Department offers bacteriological testing of water samples Monday through Thursday for $15. Call 406-258-4755.
• The Red Cross emergency shelter in Missoula is currently on standby, and staff are following up with displaced residents who previously expressed interest. Residents seeking shelter should call 1-800-272-6668.
• Missoula County will continue to update the Flood Resource Fact Sheet as needed and include it with this media update. New information is highlighted in yellow.
FLOOD RESOURCE FACT SHEET MISSOULA CITY AND COUNTY RESIDENTS
Preparing for and responding to flooding. The flood event currently impacting areas of Missoula County is the beginning of what we expect to be a prolonged event into early summer. The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, City of Missoula Police Department, City of Missoula Public Works Department, Missoula County Public Works Department and numerous fire departments are the primary agencies involved in preparing for and responding to highwater events in Missoula County and are meeting regularly to assess the situation.
Monitoring water levels. Missoula County sheriff’s deputies, Missoula City police officers, and city and county Public Works officials continue to monitor water levels and report critical information to the Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service. The NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service provided regularly updated river forecasts on its website.
Assessing levees. Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be in Missoula County during the week of May 13-19 to tour and assess levees, ensure their integrity and provide insight and technical assistance to Missoula County.
Reporting flood activity. Residents concerned about rising water or who have noticed water covering or crossing a road should call 9-1-1 immediately so a responder can be dispatched to the area to assess the situation.
Assistance for residents
Coordination with area agencies. Missoula County OEM is working with local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to coordinate assistance for residents affected by flooding. These partners include the Red Cross, local volunteer organizations, DNRC, Forest Service and others. Information will be provided as it becomes available.
Emergency shelter. The American Red Cross of Idaho and Montana evacuation shelter at Christ the King Church, located at 1400 Gerald Ave. in Missoula, is currently on standby. The facility will be open to the public as needed. Residents seeking shelter should call 1-800-272-6668.
Safe drinking water. Water from wells affected by flooding may not be safe to drink. Floodwaters can contaminate wells, so residents should use bottled water until they are able to verify that the water is safe to drink. The Missoula City-County Health Department offers bacteriological testing of water samples Monday through Thursday for $15. Residents seeking water testing should call 406-258-4755. As floodwaters are potentially contaminated by sewage, bacteria and viruses that can make people sick, residents who have had contact with floodwaters should wash their hands with soap and water, especially before eating or drinking. The Health Department also recommends residents ensure their tetanus shots are up to date. The department’s walk-in clinic offers vaccinations on a sliding fee scale. Clinic hours and additional information are available online.
Septic systems and sewers. Floodwaters can cause wastewater to surface or to back up into houses on septic systems. If there is any sign of floodwaters backing up into a house, residents should clean and disinfect the area before using it. Residents also should not pump flood or groundwater into floor sinks or house drains, as that amount of water can overwhelm septic systems, leading to sewage surfacing on the ground or backing up in a house. (The same is true for residents connected to the municipal sewer; pumping large quantities flood or groundwater into the city sewer can overload the wastewater treatment plant.)
Providing sandbags to the public. Missoula County has a cache of sandbags stored at Public Works to help protect critical public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. Protecting critical public infrastructure is crucial in mitigating further adverse impacts to citizens and property.
However, a limited number of free, unfilled sandbags are currently available in Missoula at the Public Works office, located at 6089 Training Drive. In Seeley Lake, unfilled sandbags are located at the Missoula County Satellite Office, located at 3360 Highway 83, and sand is available at the 1-Stop Convenience Store, 3072 Highway 83. Missoula County Public Works on May 2 delivered another shipment of unfilled sandbags to Seeley Lake Fire Station No. 1, located at 200 Fire House Drive, just off A Street.
(While during 2011’s flood event, the County did provide limited sandbag filler from a surplus cache of road bed material, the material was not as effective as sand, and the County does not have surplus material to offer at this time.)
Businesses selling sand and sandbags. For residents wishing to acquire sandbags for personal property protection, there are several area businesses that sell sand and/or sandbags:
Far West Rock 728-8500 Home Depot 523-0901 Knife River 543-0088 Lowes 329-1800 MT Flasher and Barricade 542-2701 Murdoch’s 549-2355 Mutual Materials 549-2011 Time Rental 543-7136 Western Excavating 728-1400
*Note: This may not be a complete list of businesses selling sand or sandbags, and Missoula County does not endorse one vendor over another.
Protecting private property with sandbags. If you choose to purchase sandbags to protect private property, be aware that you need to obtain permission to place sandbags along riparian areas by calling the Missoula Conservation District at 406-829-3395 and the Army Corps of Engineers at 406-441-1375.
If you place sandbags on your property, make sure they are placed to protect your structures but not on top of stream banks or rivers, as this could push those waters to flow faster and deeper downstream — to the detriment of others.
Using safe sandbagging techniques. Sandbagging is labor-intensive and hard physical work. Be aware of your physical limitations when sandbagging and use sound body mechanics to avoid injury. Helpful guidelines on placement methods and filling techniques from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are available online.
Flood safety tips
Remain alert. Stay tuned to your phone alerts, TV, radio or online sources for weather updates, emergency instructions or evacuation orders. Missoula County residents are highly encouraged to sign up for free Smart 911 alerts.
Limit travel. If there is standing water on a roadway, people should not walk or drive through the water, as it is difficult to judge its depth or movement below the surface. Just 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock a person down, and one foot can carry a vehicle away. WATCH VIDEO: Turn around, don’t drown.
Avoid standing water. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. To report downed power lines, call NorthWestern Energy at 888-467-2669.
More flood safety tips are available on the Disaster and Emergency Services website.
Missoula Disaster and Emergency Services Information Line 406-258-4636 (258-INFO) for a recorded message updated regularly
Missoula County Office of Emergency Management @MslaCountyOEM facebook.com/Missoula.County.911
Missoula County Public Works @MslaCoPubWorks
Missoula City-County Health Department @MslaHealthDept
Missoula County Floodplain Administration Program
Missoula County @MissoulaCounty facebook.com/Missoula.County instagram.com/missoulacountymt
Montana Department of Emergency Services @MontanaDES
Montana Department of Health and Human Services @DPHHSMT
National Weather Service-Missoula @NWSMissoula