Officials – Flood Evacuations Could continue until mid-June
At Monday’s flood information briefing, the question was asked, ‘When could flood evacuees begin to return to their homes?’, and the answer is a blow to those displaced by the flood.
Public Information Officer Mel Holtz told reporters at the courthouse on Monday that because the flood season arrived several weeks earlier than usual, that evacuees may have to wait till mid-June before they can return home.
“Typically, we don’t see our flooding season for about another week here,” Holtz said. “We had a really early flooding season and a really high early flood season, and so we’re just getting into what we typically see as our flood season coming up. There’s still a lot of snow up in the mountains that has to come down. We’re continually watching those levels and then letting the public know what those levels are so they can continue to be prepared.”
The Army Corps of Engineers has been hard at work shoring up a levee that had been eroded due to the flooded Clark Fork River near Turah. Jess Jordan said the corps has been working on the problem since Sunday.
“A direct assistance request was made by the county to the Army Corps of Engineers and that was accepted at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and we had a contract signed by about 6:00 p.m.,” said Jordan. “We contacted the contractor on Saturday night and began staging work on Sunday morning. We had rock placed on Sunday, so this is day two, and more rock is being placed right now and a system is starting to be worked out as far as placement goes. We had a status check at about 11 o’clock last night and then again early this morning just to make sure its not eroding further.”
Jordan said the most critical time to assess the levee is when the water level goes down.
“Sometimes, that’s the most dangerous time when it comes down a little bit, which is why we often stay past the flood stage so we ca have eyes on the ground.”
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff KItzmiller said there probably won't be a repeat of the highest flood stage numbers experienced in the past weeks, but moderate flooding will continue simply because of the warmer temperatures melting the abundant mountain snow pack that still remains.
Missoula County Sheriff’s Captain Anthony Rio said patrols are being reduced to two deputies 24 hours a day, and they are assisting homeowners who want to check on their properties, but none of the over 60 homeowners who have been evacuated are being allowed to return home.