Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Hill County Commission declares flood disaster in county

Flood warning in effect till April 26; Milk River flooding near Harlem


April 17, 2018

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

A sign protrudes from water overflowing a road near Gildford.

12:30 p.m.

Hill County Commission Chair Mark Peterson said the commission declared the county a disaster at 11:25 this morning.

That could help the county government and residents access alternative funding to help pay for the damage caused by flooding, he said.

In Blaine County, the government this afternoon released a statement that Milk River and its tributaries are flooding throughout that county and issued a list of roads that are closed due to flooding:

Highland Road

Yantic Road

Hall Road North of Red Rock

River Road

New Hope Road

Merrel Road west of Holly Tangen Bridge to the intersection of the New Hope Road

Paradise Valley Road south of the Eight Mile intersection.

Dead River Road near Harlem

11 a.m.

With massive amounts of snow yet to melt in the region, National Weather Service has implemented a flood warning for Blaine and Hill counties through next week with flooding reported at Battle Creek just west of Chinook and the Milk River near Harlem.

The high level of snowpack in the region - Havre is just short of setting a record for snowfall for the winter - is leading to higher-than-usual amounts of flooding, and Weather Service is predicting that won't end any time soon.

Snowmelt is accumulating in fields and valleys, filling creeks and flooding roads in the region.

Weather service did not have any flood advisory or warning in effect for Chouteau County, but an advisory that includes Liberty as well as Blaine and Hill is in effect for poor drainage areas through 9:45 a.m. Friday.

Mark Weber, public information officer for the Blaine County government, said a debriefing of Blaine County officials would start this morning at 11 a.m. and more details will be released after the debriefing. Watch for more on http://www.havreadailynews.com and on the Havre Daily News Facebook page.

Weber said updates will be posted on the Blaine County Health Department's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/blainecountyhealthdepartment/.

That Facebook page reported Monday that 30 Mile Creek north of Harlem was at flood stage and that water was crossing Montana Secondary Highway 231 between Harlem and Turner.

Hill County Commissioner Mike Wendland said flooding is occurring in many parts of Hill County.

"We've had so many roads, the water is going over them and made a mess of them," he said.

Wendland said a lot of water is coming down the Sage Creek drainage, crossing under U.S. Highway 2 near Gildford and eventually flowing into Big Sandy Creek.

"Sandy Creek is definitely at flood stage," he said.

He said yesterday he saw water flowing over U.S. Highway 2 between Kremlin and Gildford, but it was down by this morning.

The Weather Service flood warning reports that at 8:30 this morning the Milk River near Harlem was at 22.4 feet with the flood stage 21 feet, with the level expected to rise and agricultural producers warned to move livestock if necessary.

Weather Service predicted that the river will continue rising to near 23.8 feet by Thursday early afternoon then begin a gradual fall. At 23, escape routes for livestock may be cut off, it said.

Flooding of culverts and some county bridges also is expected with thousands of acres of irrigation land flooding.

Battle Creek near Chinook was at 10.5 feet this morning with 10 feet the flood stage.

The creek will fall below flood stage overnight, the warning predicts, but is expected to rise above flood stage again Sunday, then fall back below flood stage next Tuesday.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Justin Miller uses a tractor to move gates from a flooded pasture Monday near Gildford. The gates will be used to help hold cows that had to be moved late Friday early Saturday as rising water hit his pastures.

Weather Service reports that stream and river levels through the region are expected to remain at or near flood stage for the next several days, and that increased releases from Fresno Reservoir west of Havre could increase flood levels as well.

Wendland said water releases have increased at Fresno but water was not going over the spillway as of this morning.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Current Reservoir Data for Fresno Reservoir web page reported that at 10 this morning the reservoir was at 2,574.62 feet, up from the daily data report for Monday which listed it at 2,573.9 feet.

The page reported that as of Monday the reservoir's active conservation pool was 92.7 percent full with its flood control pool zero percent filled.

The reservoir's inflow was 6,107.7 cubic-feet-per-second with its outflow 1,248 CFS, the page reported.

The warning for the Milk River near Harlem is in effect until further notice, while the warning for Battle Creek is in place until next Tuesday.


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