Havre Daily News - News you can use

Flood advisory in effect - again


Flood advisories and watches continue to be in effect in north-central Montana, with creeks and streams under close watch.

Officials continue to watch conditions around Hays and Lodge Pole on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation — and the chance of severe storms later in the week continues to raise concerns.

Work has been ongoing in Hays and Lodge Pole after flooding forced some evacuations May 21.

Avis Spencer, the public information officer for the flooding incident, said this morning that heavy rains Sunday and Monday — more than 1.7 inches near the reservation agency not far from Harlem — led to one family being evacuated Sunday and additional sandbags being placed.

"Maybe with the reprieve in the weather, the sunshine we're supposed to get for the next couple of days, it will give some time to regroup and start cleaning up," she said.

Shelters have been set up in the Medicine Bear Lodge in Hays and at the Hays-Lodge Pole High School gymnasium for people concerned about mold and moisture in their residences.

Spencer said meetings will be held today at the Medicine Bear Lodge, 4-5:30 p.m., and at the high school, 6-7:30 p.m., primarily to let people know what they should be looking for.

Part of that will be to dispel some rumors that are starting to fly. Spencer said tribal officials will talk about what people should be looking for as far as mold and moisture, and will explain what the tribal staff members are doing within the different departments, and what they will be doing.

"It's going to be busy for the next two, three weeks," she added.

Representatives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services have been invited to attend the meetings, as well as representatives of the different tribal agencies. Spencer said a time will be set for the officials at the meeting to answer questions people have.

A few families in the northeastern part of the reservation, near Dodson, were affected by flooding starting in March. Spencer said work is ongoing with that region and a meeting will held for the families affected there.

"They have not been forgotten," she said.

Two water systems — in the Mission Housing behind the St. Paul Mission and the White Cow region in Hays — have been contaminated, and are being treated, Spencer said.

While the local forecast calls for less rain in the short term, the region still is under close watch.

The National Weather Service has a flood warning in effect through central Montana and up into Blaine County through 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Weather Service states that, with numerous rivers, streams and creeks out of their banks in the region, the warning will be in effect until the level of water recedes.

The warning says that people should monitor forecasts and reports, and be prepared to move to higher ground on short notice.

It also warns that people in automobiles should use great caution.

"Most flood deaths occur in automobiles," the warning says. "Never drive your vehicle into area where the water covers the roadway.

"Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear," it adds. "Jut one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road."

Hill County has one of the lightest warnings in effect in the region, with a flood advisory in place through 5:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services Cooordinator Joe Parenteau said that roads in the county are muddy and wet, but he had heard of no major flood problems as of this morning.

"I think we're doing OK, far better than the rest of the state," he said.

He said that, as long as the region does not receive a major rain event in the near future, it looks like the county has avoided major flooding.

The reservoirs in the region, including Bear Paw Lake, Beaver Creek Reservoir and Fresno Reservoir, are full with water flowing over the spillways.

Parenteau said the Bullhook drainage south of Havre also is a concern, with the flood control dam on that stream pretty well full.

The creek will be full for some time, and is likely to cause some flooding in residences in Havre near Bullhook, he said.

"We're seeing ground water coming into basements," Parenteau said. "The ground-water level is high and is going to stay high for quite some time."

A hazardous weather warning also is in effect for the region through Monday, with thunderstorms, including the potential for severe storms, in the Fort Benton area and from the Havre to Harlem areas starting Thursday afternoon.

Spotters are asked to report any severe storms to the Weather Service.

The general forecast called for no rain in the area tonight or Wednesday, with chances of showers and thunderstorms from Wednesday night through Friday night, and sunny weather Saturday and Sunday.


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