The Flathead County Office of Emergency Services in partnership with the American Red Cross on Thursday evening opened an emergency shelter for those affected by continuing weather-related power outages across the Flathead Valley. The shelter is located at the Flathead County Fairgrounds (2635 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell) in the 4-H building and is continuing to take in families and individuals who are without power.
Flathead County Emergency Management Planner Juanita Nelson told the Beacon Friday that it is unclear how long the shelter will remain open, a timeline that will depend on how quickly Flathead Electric can restore the valley-wide outages.
Those who plan to use the emergency shelter should bring any necessary medications, cell phone chargers, toiletries, food, water, flashlights and bedding with them.
Cats and dogs can be brought to the shelter, but will be located in another building at the Fairgrounds. Pet owners must bring their vaccination records, the appropriate size kennel for their animals, food and water for a minimum of three days, bowls and all supplies including waste bags and litter. When taking pets outside, they must remain leashed, and pet owners are responsible for picking up pet waste. There must be a family member or caretaker of the pet present in the shelter at all times.
Heavy snowfall and low temperatures hit the Flathead Valley earlier this week, leading to power outages and school closures on Wednesday morning. As of early Friday afternoon, there were 157 power outages in Flathead County, leaving 2,381 households without power. As winter weather continues into the weekend, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a high wind warning for the areas around Flathead Lake, the Flathead and Mission Valleys and Polson, ending at noon on Saturday. NWS cautioned individuals to avoid being outside in forested areas or beneath trees and branches, given the high probability of fallen trees. Individuals are also advised to remain on the lower levels of their homes and away from windows during windstorms and to use caution when driving.
More information about the emergency shelter can be found on the Office of Emergency Services’ Facebook page. Questions can be directed to the OES general information phone line at 406-758-5560 during business hours and to the after-hours public information line at 406- 758-2111 beyond business hours.
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