Updated: Flooding now expected to hit areas within Great Falls city limits
The Sun River peaked Thursday morning and should start to slowly recede, according to National Weather Service hydrologists.
The Missouri River is peaking now at about 14.5 feet and is expected to start receding within the next 12 hours, according to the NWS.
The Sun is still moving out of the banks in several areas, according to a city-county release.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Cascade County Flood Information Line at 406.455.8554 is inactive and the Emergency Operations Center has been demobilized. The Red Cross shelter at New Hope Lutheran Church has been placed in standby mode.
Persons affected by the flood, in need of emergency lodging, should call the non-emergency dispatch line, 406.727.7688 X5, so Red Cross personnel can be contacted.
The sand bagging operation in the Home Depot parking lot closed at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Region 4 Warden Captain, Dave Holland, is strongly discouraging any activity on the waterways. There is extreme danger with fast moving water, debris, and toxic fluids and solids that have seeped into the water.
Water stored in underground wells may be contaminated and Cascade City County Health Department has information online about how to determine if your water is tainted.
At this time the City of Great Falls water supply has not been adversely affected by the rising water.
Earlier this week, hydrologists with the National Weather Service predicted the Missouri River would crest at levels comparable to or greater than water levels experienced in 2011, to include the 100 year flood plain.
Known areas of concern for residents and businesses are:
- Woodland Estates
- Big Bend
- Lower River Road
- Flood Road
As of 6:46 p.m. June 20, city and county officials added the following areas to the high flood risk list:
- Gannon Ranch Addition
- Near Meadowlark Country Club, including Country Club Boulevard.
Great Falls fire fighters and police officers, and Cascade County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be going door to door, in the most high-risk areas, delivering information about possible evacuation and flood safety. A copy of this information is available at CCHDMT.ORG.
City officials recommend taking preliminary precautions for possible flooding and evacuation. Officials advise staying out of flood waters since it could be contaminated with sewage and be dangerous to a person’s health.
As of 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, all fishing access sites between Cascade and Great Falls are closed.
Not sure if you’re in a flood prone area? Use this link to find your flood map to get a better idea of the flood risk in your area.
Beginning at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, area residents could begin use the “fill your own” sandbag station at the northwest corner of the Home Depot parking lot at 1500 Marketplace Drive. Residents are asked to bring their own shovel.
For official information and updates, follow the City/County Health Department website and the GFPD Facebook page. The joint city-county emergency operations center has been activated and will be coordinating local efforts.
Until further notice, the City of Great Falls has closed the Broadwater Bay and Sun River boat launches, and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has closed all Cascade County boat launches.
Officials ask that residents do not call 911 or the non-emergency number for information.
According to the National Weather Service in Great Falls, the current forecast of 17 feet at the river gauge at Ulm would match the historic crest from 1953. The forecast as some level of uncertainty but NWS officials have a high confidence that the river will reach at least 15.5 feet.
At 15 feet, flooding of the Woodland Estates Road area, including some homes, is expected, according to NWS. At 17 feet, flooding of homes in the County Club area is expected.
The Sun River at Simms has reached its third highest crest ever, NWS posted Wednesday.
Gov. Steve Bullock declared a State of Emergency late Wednesday in anticipation of possible major flooding in Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties and the City of Great Falls and urged Montanans to stay alert and comply with local officials as flooding conditions worsen and possible evacuations occur.
“The next few days could be a real challenge,” Bullock said in a release. “We’re doing everything necessary at the state level to protect health and safety and to preserve lives, property and resources.”
Bullock’s declaration allows the state to mobilize resources and the Montana National Guard to protect life, health, and property.
On Thursday, Bullock approved the request from the Air Force Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida to use two Montana Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters and crews to assist Lewis and Clark County Search and Rescue officials with 137 stranded civilian campers at Montana Wilderness School of the Bible on the Dearborn River south of Augusta. The 100 campers and 37 staff members are stranded due to flood waters washing out the access road into camp.
The Montana Army National Guard helicopters will transport the campers to Holman Aviation, Great Falls International Airport throughout the day on Thursday, where parents have been notified to meet them.
Bullock’s declaration also specified that additional jurisdictions may be added to the declaration as they declare states of emergency. At present, only Cascade County, Lewis & Clark County, and the City of Great Falls have expressed intent to declare states of emergency. State assistance is available to additional jurisdictions through coordination with each county.
This declaration is separate from the earlier spring flooding event that was the subject of Bullock’s recent Presidential Major Disaster Declaration request.
The American Red Cross of Montana will open a shelter in Great Falls at 6 a.m. on June 21 in response to Missouri River and Sun River flooding.
The shelter will be located at the New Hope Lutheran Church, 3125 5th Ave. S.
The Montana Red Cross has placed the flooding evacuation shelter at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1000 1st St. N.E. in Choteau, on standby. The shelter recorded no shelter stays Tuesday night.
Red Cross staff and volunteers stand ready to reopen the shelter quickly if the need arises.
The stanby status was done in coordination with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Emergency Services.
The Red Cross will work closely with county officials to determine next steps in response to the Lewis and Clark County flooding.
The Red Cross is also working with Cascade County officials and preparing for potential flooding along the Missouri River near Ulm and Cascade.
The National Weather Service is warning that the Great Falls area is expected to experience moderate to possibly even major flooding beginning as early as Thursday afternoon and lasting into at least Friday or even Saturday. Residents along Woodland Estates Road and the County Club area of Great Falls are urged to start preparing now. Visit http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/montana/Be-prepared-for-spring-flooding-in-Montana to learn more.
Families who need services should call the Montana Red Cross at 800-272-6668.
Follow the steps below to keep your family safe during flooding.
BEFORE A FLOOD
Prepare in advance
Assemble an emergency preparedness kit, which should include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, nonperishable food, water, flashlight, first aid kit, emergency blanket, medications and copies of your personal documents. To see a complete list, visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit.
Create a household emergency plan and practice as many elements of that plan as possible. This includes identifying responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.
Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for iPhone or for Android.
Right before a flood
Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information.
Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes. Find an emergency shelter.
Check your emergency kit and replenish any items in short supply such as medications.
If you have time, also do this
Fill your car’s gas tank.
Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home. If you shut off your gas, a professional is required to turn it back on.
Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that might occur.
If you have pets or livestock
Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially large animals.
Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.
DURING A FLOOD
Staying safe indoors
Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
Dispose of any food that contacts flood water.
Staying safe outdoors
Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
Don’t walk on riverbanks.
Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
Stay out of areas subject to flooding such as underpasses, dips, and canyons.
AFTER A FLOOD
Let friends and family know you’re safe.
If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
Know the difference
A flood/flash flood watch means a flood or flash flood is possible.
A flood/flash flood warning means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.
For more information about how prepare for and respond to flooding visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flood#About.