The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management made an emergency declaration at the end of April in anticipation of the high waters they knew would be coming.

Now that the Clark Fork and the Bitterroot Rivers have flooded and the situation could become more severe in the days ahead, a disaster declaration could be issued within the next few days.

Director of the OEM Adriane Beck said on Tuesday that Missoula County has already spent more than $100,000 in addressing the flood issues.

“When we’re in an emergency, we’re obviously allocating resources, we’re spending county funds, all in an effort to keep this thing at the lowest level that we possibly can,” said Beck. “When we have tapped our resources, or when we’ve reached thresholds that have been pre-established as far as what constitutes our emergency two-mill value, then it’s appropriate to take it to the next step which is to declare a disaster, and we feel that we are very close to meeting that disaster threshold, so we will be looking to having the commissioners sign a disaster declaration later this week.”

Beck describes the resources that disaster declaration could make available to the county.

“It allows us to seek assistance from the state or to ask the state to declare a disaster here in Missoula County, but we’ve been working hand in hand with the state through this entire process,” she said. “It comes down to how much money the county has spent and is the state going to contribute some of that? Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we are eligible for some federal funds as well, but we’re continuing to look at those numbers every single day.”

Beck said if a disaster is declared by the state, the Montana National Guard could be deployed, but their duties would be very specific.

“I think it’s important to know that even if the guard was deployed, it does not mean that the guard would be placing sandbags on private property,” she said. “The guard’s mission is to protect public infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, those kinds of things.”

Beck said the Office of Emergency Management, the Sheriff’s Office and all the related services plan to be working the floods well into the month of June.

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