Blaine County braces for flooding, Hill County dodges a bullet
While parts of the region received less rainfall than expected in the last day or two, Blaine County officials still are bracing for rising levels of the Milk River that could lead to flooding in county communities.
"We are prepared to handle the emergency if the need for sheltering arises," Blaine County Commissioner Vic Miller said, adding that flooding in Chinook and Harlem is possible depending on how fast the Milk River can rid itself of excess water.
Rainfall the end of last week led to flooding on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and along Beaver Creek in Hill County. Forecasts of up to 2 inches of rain for Tuesday and today led to fears the creeks and streams in the region would swiftly rise again.
In Hill County, the amount of rain that fell was much less than expected, with the National Weather Service reporting .18 inches of precipitation from 6 a.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. today at its reporting station at the Havre City-County Airport.
"We did a whole lot better than we could have," Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Joe Parenteau said this morning.
Parenteau said the water level in Beaver Creek continues to drop, with water receding in flooded areas.
He added that one resident said she had had about 5 feet of water in her yard, but by this morning it had dropped to about 1 foot and was continuing to drop quickly.
The level of the Milk River is continuing to rise, and could for several weeks with the results of rainfall and snowmelt in the Rockies and in Canada, he said.
Miller said Blaine County had given all of its surplus sandbags to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, which continues to experience flooding in its northeast corner near Dodson and saw significant flooding in the Hays and Lodge Pole areas last month.
The county can obtain more if needed, he said, adding that the county would use sandbags to protect public areas, and likely would use heavy equipment to help reduce flooding as well.
The county is looking at using larger sandbags for levee-type protection if necessary, he said.
Miller added that residents could obtain individual sandbags through local vendors for home use.
"We are also in constant contact with the Red Cross and our state and federal agencies if the need for sheltering arises," he said. "I would suspect that our sheltering needs would be minimal, though we are prepared for the larger populations.
"The main thing is for people to use common sense and be safe," Miller added. "Local road conditions have not changed. We are monitoring water levels and anticipated water levels."