County rebuilding roads damaged by June flooding; requests state disaster relief funds

Cascade County has submitted a letter to Gov. Steve Bullock requesting supplemental disaster relief related to the June flooding on the Missouri and Sun rivers.

Commissioners signed the letter on Wednesday and John Stevens, Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator, said the county would likely receive response next week.

The flooding caused damage to five streets covering a half mile in Sun River; seven streets covering a mile in Fort Shaw; and another three county roads that were rendered impassable. The most extensive damage was on South Manchester Road and North Fort Shaw Road, according to the letter.

The damage estimates for the county include $1,540.32 for debris clearance; $1,336.17 for protective measures; and $334,013.85 for road systems, according to county DES and public works departments.

The County Commission can impose a 2 mill emergency levy which will generate $132,394, according to county officials.

Stevens and Brian Clifton, public works director, said that to receive the state disaster relief funds, the county has to impose the 2-mill levy, but they wanted to first determine if the county would be eligible to receive the state funds.

The estimated state assistance required is $204,496.34, according to the county’s letter.

The only concern, Stevens, said is that the state funds for flood repairs comes from the same fund used for wildfire operations and costs exceeded resources last year.

Without the state assistance or emergency mills, the full cost of repairs comes out of the public works road and bridges budget which will push back other road projects, Clifton said.

“You only levy the 2 mills when you have an emergency you can’t pay for,” Stevens said. “Brian [Clifton] didn’t set aside $400,000 just in case, we can’t do that.”

The flooding occurred in mid-June throughout the county but severely impacted the unincorporated communities of Simms, Fort Shaw, Sun River, Vaughn and other rural areas of the county. County Commissioners declared an emergency on June 18.

As flood waters receded, county officials conducted a preliminary damage assessment and formally declared a disaster on July 2 “because the extent of damage was beyond the county’s capability to complete repairs,” according to the letter to Bullock.

On July 12, county officials worked with Montana Disaster and Emergency Services to conduct a detailed field damage assessment.

On July 20, Clifton took The Electric to view some of the areas most damaged by the flooding and where the county had repaired and rebuilt roads.

Clifton said the county public works department rebuilt some roads and regraveled others. South Manchester Road is the only paved road that will be repaved and the county is currently contracting to overlay the section of road where flood waters washed over and sat for an extended period of time, saturating the substructure of the road, which is now crumbling and breaking apart. The section between McIver Road and Haven Lane will be repaired.

Clifton and Stevens said the June flooding wasn’t near the damage levels of the 2011 flooding, which was $1.2 million worth of damage in Cascade County.

During the flood, the river came within 16 inches of the bridge deck on South Manchester, leaving debris caught in and under the bridge, which can cause damage.

Clifton said that in 2011, the river came within six inches of the bridge deck.


In Sun River, the county rebuilt several gravel roads, including 1st Street and 2nd Street, where the gravel washed away exposing fiber optics cables.

In Fort Shaw, the river flows came and washed over North Fort Shaw Road, completely destroying the road. Clifton said the gravel was washed away, exposing the culverts underneath and the area was impassable.

County crews brought in large rocks and gravel to hammer in to build the base of the road and regraveled the entire stretch. Debris is still caught along the side of the road and in the fence lines of neighboring fields.