Jun 7, 2011 12:02 PM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)
A flood evacuation warning has been issued by Sheriff Leo Dutton for people living along Prickly Pear Creek in East Helena.
An earthen dam above the spillway has given way.
Dutton noted, "The cement dam is fine, the earthen dam is the one that gave way. So the water now is coming through East Helena and it will probably peak about 1:00. Areas that are affected are from Asarco Plant all the way to East Helena. Along East Helena, the town of East Helena, the Twilight Village along in there, all along Prickly Pear."
People living in low-lying areas in the Helena and East Helena Valley are also under a flood warning.
The over-saturated ground has caused severe runoff from area streams and ditches.
With rain continuing to fall, and more in the forecast, the county has set up help for those who may need to prepare for floodwaters.
Brian LaMoure, a public information officer with the county, explained, "If you live near by streams, creeks, or rivers the recent rains have been increasing the waterflows such that some streams are or will be going over their banks. If you've traditionally lived in a flood area that the streams come up and flood your area, you should be concerned. We have sandbags that are available in the West Valley and East Valley Volunteer Fire Departments. You can just go there and pick them up."
(First Report, 10:02 am) Lewis & Clark County officials have formally declared a disaster due to flooding in the area. Sheriff Leo Dutton has issued a flood evacuation warning along Prickly Pear Creek from Asarco to Lake Helena.
The warning does not mean that evacuations are mandatory, only that people in that area should monitor the situation closely and take precautions in case they do have to evacuate their homes.
Officials are convening this morning at the county Emergency Operations Center. An official with the 911 Center reports that water levels along the Prickly Pear Creek are expected to crest by 1 pm.
Sandbags are available at West Valley Fire Department located at Forestvale Road and Montana Avenue.
We will update you with more information shortly.
Before A Flood
o Know your evacuation route.
o Move livestock and equipment to higher ground.
o Move furniture and belongings to upper floors.
o Keep your automobile fueled - gas pumps will probably lose power.
o Secure or tie down outside possessions.
o Store drinking water in clean bathtubs and other containers. (1 gallon per day per person.)
o Keep a stock of food that requires little or no cooking or refrigeration; electric power may be disrupted.
o Keep first aid supplies on hand.
o Keep a NOAA Weather radio, a battery powered portable radio, emergency cooking equipment and flashlights in working order.
o Install check valves in building sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
o Disconnect electrical appliances or equipment that can't be moved.
o Keep materials like sandbags, plastic sheeting, plywood and lumber handy for emergency water proofing.
During A Flood
o If there have been evacuation orders - do so immediately.
o Move to a safe area or a Red Cross shelter before access is cut off by flood waters.
o Continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio or other radio stations (KEMC - FM, 91.7 MHz is the Emergency Alerting System (EAS) station).
o Avoid areas subject to flooding.
o Don't walk through or drive in water that is above your ankles. STOP! Turn around and go the other way. Don't drive over a flooded road when you don't know the depth of the water. It could be washed out under the water.
o Abandon a stalled vehicle in flood waters if you can do so safely.
After A Flood
o If fresh food has come in contact with flood waters, throw it out.
o Boil drinking water before using. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking. If in doubt, call the public or environmental health office.
o Seek necessary medical care at the nearest hospital. Food, clothing, shelter, and first aid are available from the Red Cross.
o Do not visit disaster areas. Your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
o Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
o Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches or matches, to examine buildings. Flammables may be inside.
o Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
o Keep tuned to radio or Television for advice and instructions.
o Notify your insurance agent if your property was damaged.