HELENA, Mont. (AP) —Officials have closed a stretch of Montana Highway 200 over Rogers Pass after a culvert failed and flooded the roadway.
State Department of Transportation officials say the highway is closed east of Lincoln to the intersection with Montana Highway 287.
Heavy rain over the past few days has also led to the flooding of the Sun River and the closure of all roads leading to the town of Augusta about 35 miles north of Rogers Pass.
Red Cross officials say they’re opening a shelter for people affected by the flooding at 7 p.m. in Choteau at the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Heavy rain falling along the Rocky Mountain Front over the last several days triggered flooding in the town of Augusta, closed all roads into the town and trapped a horseback party in the Scapegoat Wilderness.
The Montana Department of Transportation closed U.S. Highway 287 around Augusta on Tuesday because water from Elk Creek was running over the road both north and south of town.
“Main Street is a river,” said Gail Genger, who owns Mel’s Diner in Augusta with her husband, Matt. They opened the restaurant’s doors and let the water run through.
“Once it started getting over the curb there wasn’t much hope,” Matt Genger said.
The flooding in town was concentrated in about a three-block area, Matt Genger said, and people were helping with sandbagging, “trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
As he talked with a reporter, someone drove past a “road closed” sign. “Now he’s going to speed up and cause a wake,” Genger said. “Absolutely ignorant.”
Other local roads were closed, in one case because a bridge washed out, the Department of Transportation said.
By 1:30 p.m. all roads to Augusta had been closed, Lewis and Clark County officials said.
The Red Cross planned to open a shelter for people affected by the flooding in Choteau, which is 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Augusta.
A dozen members of a horseback party were rescued by Two Bear Air helicopter Tuesday morning after the weekend rain washed out their camp. They were trapped on the wrong side of the swollen Dearborn River in the Scapegoat Wilderness southwest of Augusta.
They were brought to Augusta, three at a time.
The guides stayed back with the horses, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Capt. Brent Colbert said. “They’re going to ride it out and bring out the horses when they can,” Colbert told the Great Falls Tribune .
Meanwhile, residents of the Sun River Valley east of Augusta were warned to expect the Sun River to flood, threatening homes near Simms.
Officials closed a stretch of Montana Highway 200 over Rogers Pass after a culvert failed and flooded the roadway. The highway was closed east of Lincoln to the intersection with Montana Highway 287, according to state transportation officials.
Gibson Reservoir west of Augusta saw 7 ¼ inches (18 centimeters) of rain in the three days ending Tuesday morning. Lewis and Clark County officials said Gibson Dam was full and releasing water, which would cause a rise in the Sun River.
Nearly 8.5 inches (21.6 centimeters) of rain fell at Wood Creek in the mountains west of Augusta in the past three days, meteorologist Christian Cassell said. The Dearborn River near Craig was at moderate flood stage Tuesday, Cassell said. Local flooding also was reported in the Helena Valley.
The Gengers said they had no warning about the flooding.