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Lewis & Clark County flooding update

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The latest information provided by Lewis & Clark County officials on the flooding as of 6:00pm Monday evening.

June 13th, 2:30 PM

The county's Flood Emergency Operations Center has closed, but local officials will continue to send out public information as it becomes available. The hotline number, 447-1605, is no longer being staffed. For more information, contact the County Disaster & Emergency Services, 447-8285 or pspengler@co.lewis-clark.mt.us.

The Lewis & Clark City-County Health Department has issued the following fact sheets (attached):

  • Your Well: What to Do After the Flood
  • During and After Flooding: What's Safe to Eat

These fact sheets will be available online at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding, as well as at Bob's Valley IGA, Lowe's, Home Depot, Power Townsend, and Rockhand Hardware.

Additional fact sheets on mold clean-up, septic systems, and mosquito abatement will be issued in the next few days.

The Red Cross will continue to provide a limited number of flood cleanup kits Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, from 10 AM to 8 PM in Exhibit Building 1 at the County Fairgrounds. Copies of the health department fact sheets and county damage assessment forms will also be available there.

Van's Thriftway IGA has donated 50 cases of bottled water for county residents impacted by flooding. The water will be available through the Red Cross at the fairgrounds (same hours and location as above).

The Lewis & Clark County Public Works Department has rented 2 additional graders and is focusing on grading, filling potholes, and otherwise fixing county roads that are not covered in water. Many county roads were badly eroded by rain even if not flooded. Once flood waters have receded, the department will attack roads in the flooded areas of the county, including Lincoln, Wolf Creek, and Augusta.

The Sheriff's Office will keep road closures in place at least through today because some roads are still covered in water and to give residents an opportunity to cope with flood impacts on their properties.

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Lewis & Clark County Emergency Operations Center June 10, 2011, 6:00pm

 • County Disaster & Emergency Services has worked with Rocky Mountain Credit Union (RMCU) and the American Red Cross to establish a flood relief donation fund at RMCU. Anyone wanting to make a monetary contribution toward flood assistance in Montana can send it to RMCU, 3400 North Montana, Helena MT 59602, or drop it off at any of the RMCU branches in Helena. RMCU has offered to match the first $5,000 in contributions. Donations will be collected until July 31 and distributed through the Red Cross. Checks should be made payable to Montana Flood Relief Fund.

• The evacuation order for Little Wolf Creek, issued last night, has been lifted. Residents of the community northwest of Wolf Creek may return to their homes.

• Beginning Monday morning, the Red Cross will make available 270 free basement cleanup kits to county residents whose residences have been damaged by floods. Each kit contains a rake, shovel, broom, disinfectant, rubber gloves, scrub brush and squeegee. The kits will be available at the West Valley Fire Station until 8 p.m. Monday.

• Although flood waters are dropping in many locations, safety is still a concern over the weekend. Culverts can create suction that can drag a child underwater. All flood water should be considered contaminated with bacteria and other germs and capable of causing waterborne illnesses. Parents are encouraged to keep children out of the flood waters.

• Sandbag distribution points will be closed beginning Saturday morning. Residents are encouraged to leave sandbags in place for the next few days. Residents can return unused sandbags to the place they got them.

• The Emergency Operations Center will open at 7:30 AM Saturday. Media briefings are scheduled for 8 AM and noon. The EOC will close Saturday afternoon and remain closed through Sunday unless flood activity increases. The EOC hotline at 447-1605 will not be available when the EOC is closed.

• Flood updates will be posted online at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding

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June 10, 2011, 8:00 AM
Lewis & Clark County Emergency Operations Center


Local homeowners and businesses may become eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with flood recovery. The SBA must make a physical disaster declaration before loans are offered. SBA will make a disaster declaration when:
• At least 25 homes (primary residences) and/or businesses in a county have uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of their estimated fair replacement value. (Secondary homes, condominium units, cabins, camps, lake homes, etc., used for recreational purposes are not included in the count. OR
• At least 3 businesses have uninsured loss of 40 percent or more of their estimated fair replacement value and, as a direct result of the damages, 25 percent of the work force in the community would be unemployed for at least 90 days.

To determine whether Lewis & Clark County qualifies for these low-interest loans, the county Disaster & Emergency Services needs the cooperation of local residents and businesses. Damage assessment forms will be available by this afternoon on the county website at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding. People whose property was impacted by the floods are asked to download the appropriate form, fill it out and return it by June 30 at the latest to pspengler@co.lewis-clark.mt.us or Paul Spengler, Disaster & Emergency Services, 221 Breckenridge St., Helena, MT 59601.

• Although the weather forecast is calling for drier weather, officials recommend that residents leave up sandbag dikes through the weekend. A collection point for sandbags will be announced later. Do not dump sand into drainage ditches, as this will create future water flow issues.

• Flood updates will be posted online at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding

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6-9-11 7:30 PM

The County Commission declared a flood emergency in Lewis and Clark County beginning June 7, 2011.

The East Helena City Commission declared a flood emergency in East Helena beginning June 7, 2011.

EVACUATION ORDER: The Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation order to residents of Little Wolf Creek, about 3-4 miles northwest of Wolf Creek. Flood waters are threatening several bridges that provide access into and out of the area. Deputies and volunteer firefighters are delivering evacuation notices to residents. Evacuees are encouraged to check in at the Wolf Creek Fire Station. Shelter for evacuees is available at First Assembly of God Church, 2110 Dodge Street, Helena.

For more information, contact the Disaster & Emergency Services Hotline: 406-447-1605

Roads

Travel Safety:

  • Do not travel to or in flooded areas unless absolutely necessary. Leave routes open for emergency personnel.
  • If you must travel through flood waters (to reach your home, for example), drive very slowly (5 mph) to avoid creating a wake that pushes flood waters into yards and homes. Law enforcement officials will issue tickets to those driving too fast for conditions.

Road Closures (Residents will be permitted to access homes on closed roads.)

  • A rock slide has blocked southbound lanes of Interstate 15 at about mile marker 225, just south of Wolf Creek. Lanes are expected to be cleared by about 1 p.m. 6-9-11.
  • Mill Road, Helena: Closed from Green Meadow to Montana Avenue
  • Forestvale Road, Helena: Closed from Green Meadow to Montana Avenue
  • McHugh Lane, Helena: Closed from Sierra to Motsiff Road
  • Eastview Road, East Helena: Closed
  • Eastbound lane of MT Highway 200 closed at Bowman's Corner
  • Lover's Lane and Elk Creek Road in Augusta, closed
  • Sperry Road in Wolf Creek, closed.
  • Progress, Alabama, Georgia, Carolina streets in Helena Valley closed.

Water Quality

Boil Orders: The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued boil orders for the following areas. Drinking water there is unsafe to drink. Use bottled water or disinfect water (as outlined below) before using.

  • Valley Vista Trailer Park (formerly KOA Campground)

Wastewater & Septic Systems

  • Reduce water usage as much as possible to prevent further ground saturation.
  • Do not discharge sump pumps into septic systems, which were not designed to handle such large quantities of water.

Other Information:

  • Assume all flood water is contaminated with bacteria and other germs.
  • If you have a private well, and if flood waters have reached your wellhead, assume that your well water is contaminated.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about the quality of your drinking water, get it tested at one of these three local facilities: Alpine Analytical, 449-6282; Energy Laboratories, 442-0711; or State of Montana Public Health Laboratory, 444-2642.
  • Don't use contaminated water or questionable water for any domestic purpose, such as cooking, drinking, bathing, brushing your teeth, or making baby formula.
  • Use bottled water or disinfect water that may be contaminated. You can disinfect water in one of two ways: bring it to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, or mix it with household bleach at a ratio of 5 drops of bleach to 1 quart of water.
  • Avoid exposure to flood water if you have an open wound.
  • Don't allow children to play in flood waters.
  • Wash hands after coming into contact with flood waters.

Sandbags

Sandbags and sand are available as supplies permit at the following locations:

  • East Valley Fire Hall, 2694 Valley Drive
  • Valley Gun Club, 1205 Forestvale

Volunteers

  • Volunteers are welcome to help fill sandbags at any of the locations listed above.
  • The United Way is establishing a list of people who wish to volunteer, time, skills, or equipment to the flood response effort. To volunteer, call the United Way at 406-442-4360.

Utilities

  • Residents with concerns about electrical infrastructure should contact NorthWestern Energy's Operations Call Center, 1-888-467-2669.
  • Do not dig trenches or holes to divert water without first calling a locator service to make sure utilities will not be compromised. Locator services are available by calling 8-1-1.
  • Flooding may create electrical hazards. If you suspect damage to your electrical system (for example, if wiring has been under water, wires are visibly frayed, or you see sparks), turn off the electrical system in the building. Do not turn it back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.

Evacuation Shelter

Evacuees may seek shelter at the Red Cross shelter located at the First Assembly of God Church, 2110 Dodge Street, in Helena.

Lincoln Area

  • Stemple Pass Road: water on road in some areas; drive slowly and use caution.
  • Dalton Mountain Road at Willow Creek: water on road; drive slowly and use caution.
  • Avoid Sucker Creek area.
  • Volunteers needed to sandbag Hooper Park. Call 438-2597 or 465-7691.

For flood updates, visit www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding

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Lewis & Clark County Emergency Operations Center June 9, 2011, 12:00pm
Contact: Gayle Shirley, PIO, 457-8801

  • A rock slide has temporarily closed southbound lanes of Interstate 15 just south of Wolf Creek near mile markers 24-25. Lanes are expected to be cleared by about 1 p.m.
  • No flood-related injuries have been reported to date.
  • The East Helena municipal water supply is safe for drinking and other uses.
  • Questions and concerns about electrical issues should be directed to NorthWestern Energy’s Operations Call Center at 1-888-467-2669.
  • The United Way has agreed to coordinate volunteer information. Anyone wanting to volunteer time, energy, skills, or equipment should call 442-4360.
  • The Emergency Operations Center is working to set up a system for accepting monetary donations. More information will be provided when available.
  • ASARCO has had a geotechnical engineer assess the slag pile at East Helena, including a visible crack. There are no hazards at this time.
  • Flood updates will be posted online at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding

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Lewis & Clark County Emergency Operations Center June 9, 2011, 8 a.m.
447-1605

  • The eastbound lane of Montana Highway 200 at Bowman’s Corner has been closed due to water on the road.
  • Progress, Alabama, Georgia, Carolina streets in the Helena Valley are covered by 2-3 feet of water.
  • The following new road closures were announced: Lover’s Lane in Augusta, Elk Creek Road in Augusta, Sperry Road in Wolf Creek.
  • The weather is expected to be drier from Saturday through Wednesday.
  • The Blackfoot River is up considerably at Lincoln. Public works is monitoring and providing sandbags.
  • Flooding may create electrical hazards. If damage to an electrical system is suspected (for example, if the wiring has been under water, you can smell burning insulation, wires are visibly frayed, or you see sparks), turn off the electrical system in the building. Do not turn back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician. Be aware that de-energized power lines may become energized by a secondary power source, such as a portable backup generator. For more information, visit the OSHA website: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/Bulletin1.pdf
  • If a presidential disaster declaration is approved for the State of Montana, individuals may become eligible for low-interest loans to help with the costs of recovery from flooding. Homeowners with flood insurance should go first to their private insurance company for assistance.
  • The Sheriff’s Office is concerned for the safety of children no longer in school who may be attracted to playing in flood waters. Parents are advised to keep their children away from floodwaters.
  • Residents of the valley are asked to limit their use of water as much as possible to avoid further filling septic systems and saturating the ground. This means putting off laundry, flushing toilets less often, showering or bathing less often, etc.
  • Residents in flood areas should be aware of potential electrical hazards.
  • Drivers who must travel water-covered roads are asked to drive slowly (5 mph) to avoid creating wakes that overtop dikes and further flood homes and property.
  • Individuals wanting to volunteer for the flood effort are advised to show up at one of the sandbag sites to help fill sandbags. Anyone wanting to volunteer in other ways may call the Emergency Operations Center at 447-1605. Their name and contact information will be collected and they will be contacted if and when other volunteer opportunities arise.
  • Flood updates will be posted online at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding

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L&C Co Flooding Briefing 6:00pm, June 8th

Items updated from the prior Briefing of 1:30pm

Roads that are closed to everyone but residents:

  • Augusta: Lovers Lane and Elk Creek Road
  • Wolf Creek: Sperry road
  • MT Highway 200 Eastbound – Bowman’s Corner
  • The prior road closures are still in effect:

              i. Wylie Road has travel restrictions, accessible only by residents.
              ii. Mill Road is closed from Montana to Green Meadow.
              iii. Forestvale Road is closed from Montana to Green Meadow
              iv. McHugh Lane is closed from Motsiff Road to Sierra Road

  • Sierra Road at Rossiter School is close to flooding.  It was said there is a lot of water moving past the school.
  • We have about 20,000 sandbags available.  20,000 on order for delivery Thursday. Between 45 and 50,000 bags have been given out.
  • Helena Sand and Gravel and Valley Sand and Gravel have both donated sand and sand bags to residents.
  • Football players for Helena High, Helena Capital High and Carroll College volunteered for sandbagging and helping area residents during the flood.
  • East Helena has declared an emergency due to the flooding.
  • The ASARCO slag cracks have been reviewed by their company engineer and are thought to be safe.  Additional engineering consultants will review the cracked areas Thursday.

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L&C Co Flood briefing 1:30pm, June 8th

  • The KOA Campground has their water and sewer systems shut down due to flood waters. 85 residences are affected. Porta Potties have been placed there. Vans Thriftway has donated 30 cases of water and the YMCA has offered residents shower facilities.
  • JFK Park in East Helena is closed due to flooding.
  • Anyone with backhoes trying to clear drainage areas need to have utilities locations made prior to digging. There are major gas and electrical buried utilities in the area and disturbing them can be very dangerous.
  • Both Helena football teams, Helena High and Capital High, are volunteering to fill sandbags.
  • Avon and Elliston have power poles down.  When utilities are back up have the utility companies reestablish connections in the home.
  • So far about 45,000 to 50,000 sand bags have been used.  An additional 30,000 have been ordered.
  • The East Helena sewage plant is being inundated with water. Water is coming out of the manholes.  The system cannot keep up.
  • Sandbags are being sent to Augusta and Lincoln in anticipation of flooding.
  • The Chessman Dam is in good condition. Scott’s Reservoir is being inspected Wednesday.
  • Do not cut into any canal channels with backhoes.
  • If anyone has water over their wells, it is requested they call 444-4400 and boil any water they use for consumption. Closed roads, water well, septic and general flooding information is available at www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding
  • It was noted that cracks in the slag piles in East Helena were pre-existing conditions and are not a problem.
  • Stemple Pass Road is flooding 300 yards from the bridge and will probably be closed shortly.

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Flood briefing 8:00pm, June 7th

  • Rimini Road has water over it in areas. Some private access bridges are damaged.
  • Rimini schools are out on Wednesday due to flooding.
  • Lincoln, no report of flooding.  Blackfoot River is coming out of its banks in areas.
  • Augusta Highway 435 - water over the road in spots.
  • More sandbags are on order - 20,000. Have used about 20,000.
  • West Valley Fire Department is looking at opening a second location for sandbags. People are waiting in line for sandbags.
  • Red Cross shelter, no one is using it. Have a staff of five.  Closing down for the night, are on call if needed.
  • Search & Rescue has been a great help - staging at the creek in various areas.
  • East Helena sandbagging at new location - City Hall.
  • LIST Team activated (Local Incident Support Team) located at East Valley Fire Department Station #2
  • Shar Court is inaccessible, homes are stranded. Fire Department will access in morning to assist homeowners.
  • East Helena sewer lagoon has water coming out of manhole covers. Can only wait till waters recede to go in and check.
  • New sandbagging location at the gun club at 1205 Forestvale.
  • Working the East Helena area are 100 to 150 personnel and volunteers.
  • Chessman and Scott reservoirs are inaccessible and their condition is uncertain. When weather permits an aerial survey is requested.
  • Blue Cloud area has some inaccessible homes.
  • Outside Clancy in Lump Gulch some culverts are out.
  • Water well and septic information is at www.LewisandClarkHealth.org
  • Facebook information is at the Tri-County CERT page

Here is a recap of closed roads:

Helena flooding update 7:00 pm

  • Wyle Road has travel restrictions, accessible only by residents.
  • Mill Road is closed from Montana Ave. to Green Meadow Drive.
  • Forestvale Road is closed from Montana Ave. to Green Meadow Drive.
  • McHugh Lane is closed from Motsiff Road to Sierra Road.
  • Water is over the road at the Archie Bray on Country Club Ave.
  • The Rimini Road has water over it in various areas.  Area is being checked. 

Please use caution when driving through water. Driving fast causes waves which swamp homes and berms.  Please stay away from flooding areas in order to allow response personnel to safely access the area.

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Emergency Operations Center Briefing 2:00pm

  • Wylie Road has travel restrictions in place.  Local home owners only may access their homes, individuals are requested to avoid the road.
  • Wylie and Elk View roads have water over them and they are working to divert the waters into Helena Sand and Gravel pits.
  • McHugh Road has water in both ditches beside the road and it is expected that water will be over the road shortly.
  • The MT Law Enforcement Academy has water surrounding it but the buildings are okay.
  • Sierra Road will soon have water over it.
  • Baxendale Fire has concerns about a city dam about 8 miles up the road.  Its intake is blocked.  Some roads in the area are inundated.
  • Lions Creek is up 6” this morning but has 12” to the top to go.
  • EPA is on site at the ASCARO holding ponds.  Plans are in place in case of overflow.
  • There is a small sinkhole on Floweree near the Law Enforcementv Academy, county roads are working on it.
  • Augusta is holding steady with their waters, no flooding.
  • Lincoln has some flooding from the Blackfoot River.
  • Water well contamination and general flooding information is available at LewisandClarkHealth.org or at the county website.
  •  Jefferson County
    -  
    Tizer Lake Road is washed out at the culvert.
    -   Two-foot bridges to homes are washed out.
  • East Helena JFK Park is flooded.
    -  
     Pacific, Morton and Gale roads are flooded in the JFK area.
  •  Search and Rescue is on standby for flood rescue of people.
    -  
    Please stay away from flooding areas, streams and rivers.
  •  Personal backhoes are digging without doing locates on utilities. This is very dangerous.
  •  Please do not drive through water on the road as it surges floodwaters into homes and berms.
  •  All volunteer firemen are volunteers and are helping with sandbagging operations.  Please be nice to them.

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