Glasgow and Valley County are enjoying a reprieve from rain for the time being, and efforts are being mobilized to help residents and businesses after the spring floods. But it will be a muddy road back for those hardest hit.
The Montana Economic Developers Association organized a statewide teleconference Tuesday regarding President Obama’s $8.6 million disaster declaration for Montana due to flooding. Based in the Glasgow chamber conference room, about 65 officials and stakeholders participated in the conference from Missoula to Glasgow to Washington, D.C.
Much focus was on public assistance available for flood victims – individual assistance has not yet been approved – and the role of economic development in disaster conditions.
MEDA president Larry Mires of Glasgow cautioned that “it’s a fluid scenario” and that the $8.6 million disaster total for Montana is “going to go up without any doubt at all.”
A Federal Emergency Management Agency official participating in the teleconference from Washington urged flood victims to photograph and document damages to improve chances of government aid and to make repairs quickly to make property safe and secure. He stressed that FEMA is a reimbursement program and does not provide up front assistance.
Other avenues that flood victims can explore are natural disaster income tax credits from Montana and the new Emergency Homeowners Loan Program under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus named Rick Seiler and Wayne Waarvick Jr. of Glasgow his “Montana Heroes of the Day” for helping the community throughout the 2011 flooding disaster.
A news release from the senator’s office described Seiler, the county’s disaster and emergency coordinator, and Waarvick as “county road supervisors who have worked endless hours to keep roads open and residents safe as the Milk River burst its banks this spring.”
Baucus also recognized the county road crew for hard work in keeping traffic moving throughout the disaster. In addition to washed out roads, Valley County also is dealing with several bridges that have sustained severe damage.
Meanwhile, Amtrak on Tuesday shut down Empire Builder train service indefinitely in Eastern Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota due to tracks being closed around hard-hit Minot, N.D. It’s the Empire Builder’s second flood interruption, the first being June 1 to 15.
The Wedesday morning weather forecast from the National Weather Service in Glasgow brought some hope for receding waters, with predicted high temperatures from 69 to 82 through next Tuesday. The highest chance of showers or thunderstorms, 40 percent, was forecast for Thursday night and otherwise the outlook was for sunny conditions or a slight chance of precipitation.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday said it expected that releases from swollen Fort Peck Lake would remain at 60,000 cubic feet per second through raised spillwater gates “for the time being” after being reduced from 65,500 cfs on Sunday.
The Bureau of Land Management reported Tuesday that excessive rain and runoff severely damaged Triple Crossing Reservoir 27 miles southwest of Glasgow in Valley County and closed several roads that access public and private lands in the same area. The control pipe structure in the TC Reservoir has eroded and under-cut the fill, which has essentially drained the reservoir.