BILLINGS – Roads were being washed away and people cut off in isolated areas across Montana as flooding continued to spread across the state Thursday.
More rain was forecast through the weekend as new flood emergencies were announced in Jefferson, Sanders and Musselshell counties.
To the south, residents and officials in Carbon, Yellowstone and Big Horn counties continued to pump water from hundreds of flooded basements. The Office of Public Assistance in Yellowstone County will be closed for two days after it flooded.
Relief officials say drinking water and diaper and formula for infants will be distributed on the Crow Reservation over the next two days. Floodwaters have retreated on the reservation, but problems persist.
In the small town of Joliet, authorities said they have been unable to break up debris trapped beneath a bridge along Rock Creek that has contributed to flooding. An estimated 160 homes had their basements or lower levels flooded when the creek rushed through town Wednesday.
“They have to wait to get that debris out until the water goes down,” said Joliet volunteer fire chief Melvin Hoferer. “If we get some heavy rains, it would be a lot longer. It might be three or four more days.”
In central Montana, the Petroleum County drinking water system was being threatened by rising waters.
The Musselshell River near Roundup was expected to crest between Friday and Sunday, said Randy Holmes of the Disaster Emergency Service in Roundup.
Law enforcement has set up roadblocks around flood areas around the town and Holmes said direct travel to Billings was impossible due to high running water that has covered the main highway.
Residents in Musselshell County were being encouraged to conserve water until the waters start to recede.
Singer said there were likely some evacuations going on in Musselshell County and residents were urged to conserve water Thursday morning until emergency services could get an update on the situation.
At least 17 county roads were closed in Judith Basin County and many more in Petroleum County.
In western Montana, the National Weather Service reports water levels have reached flood stage in southeastern Missoula and Granite County. The service predicts water levels will rise above flood stage by Thursday afternoon and could continue to swell.
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