BILLINGS – More than 300 people now have a way out of a central Montana neighborhood cut off since last week after floodwaters washed out several roads in rural Musselshell County
But authorities planned to continue ferrying supplies into the area south of Roundup by boat because the restored route is four-wheel-drive only.
Repairs have yet to begin on the flooded main route into the neighborhood. Workers finally began pumping water from the area that includes that route after a week of repairs to a makeshift dike that was damaged by the Musselshell River.
“We’re telling people to use caution and travel at your own risk,” said emergency services worker Chris Holmes. “The best thing right now is to relax and take the time off.”
Elsewhere in Montana, flood warnings still blanket much of the state. Streams that surged with record rains last month are getting a second slug from the melting snowpack.
At least $8.6 million in flood damaged public infrastructure has been reported since flooding first hit last month. That does not count losses from hundreds of homes that have suffered flood damage along the Musselshell, Bighorn, Missouri, Milk and other rivers and many smaller creeks and streams.
Although river levels have dropped in recent days, minor to moderate flooding was forecast to continue over at least the next several days along the Jefferson River at Three Forks, the Milk River near Glasgow and Tampico and the Missouri River near Toston and Landusky.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday said a presidential disaster declaration for the flooding is overdue, and said the federal government is “sitting on the sidelines.”
But a spokeswoman for the state Disaster and Emergency Services Division said there had been no delay and a declaration was expected within days.
“FEMA and the state rushed in and we were able to document damages well before the flood was over,” said DES spokeswoman Monique Lay.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer first requested a disaster declaration June 1, then followed up June 9 with a second, more comprehensive request detailing the $8.6 million in damages.
The latter request was made by Schweitzer after he left for a visit to China with a delegation he is leading as president of the Council of State Governments. He is due to return June 18.
The state has yet to seek grants or other assistance for individual homeowners. Lay said flood victims were encouraged to submit a tally of their damages to form the basis of such a request.
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