HELENA — High waters from huge amounts of rainfall combined with melting snowpack over the past month are prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release massive amounts of water from Fort Peck Dam earlier than expected.
Roosevelt County officials announced Thursday afternoon that engineers plan on releasing 50,000 cubic feet per second of water from the dam starting June 9, revising an earlier plan to release that amount of water in mid-June.
That decision likely will spell higher floodwaters sooner in the Dakotas. The water released into the Missouri River is flooding and forcing evacuations of communities in North and South Dakota. Water levels are expected to continue to rise as record-level snowpack continues to melt.
In Montana, a break in the weather is giving counties and tribes a chance to repair flood damage and prepare for more water.
Families are still displaced and public facilities remain broken on the Crow Indian Reservation, one of the areas worst hit by floodwaters. Red Cross and tribal officials were planning to relocate displaced residents to a new shelter in Crow Agency being set up for 220 people. Up until now, displaced residents had been staying in rooms on the Montana State University Billings campus.
Septic and water facilities damaged by flooding in Crow Agency remained nonfunctional Friday. Residents were ordered to stop using those facilities on the south side of Crow Agency so the systems could be repaired.
The reservation hospital is damaged as well, and most services have been moved to area clinics.
Elsewhere in central Montana, the Musselshell River remains above flood stage but has gone down significantly. Officials in the heavily hit town of Roundup said although some water remains, roads are clearing and parts of town are reopening.