Parts of Glacier County are still reeling from the massive amounts of snow that have fallen so far this season. The communities of Heart Butte, Browning, and East Glacier have been especially hard-hit, with some areas recording more than 70 inches of snow just in February.
Several storm systems in recent days have also caused severe blowing and drifting snow, leaving drifts of more than six feet in their week.
In a press release on Tuesday, February 27th, the Blackfeet Nation said that it declared a state of emergency on January 4th due to the severe weather and accumulation of snow within the Blackfeet Reservation. The declaration remains in effect.
On February 19th, an Incident Command Post - led by Robert DesRosier - was established at Tribal headquarters to communicate, coordinate, and control all emergency situations during the ongoing incident.
Blackfeet officials say that the goals of the emergency declaration and the creation of the Incident Command Post are: elders and medical needs are priority for services; roads and plowing; human and first-responder safety.
The press release states that the Incident Command team has coordinated with state officials, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Blackfeet Housing, the Salvation Army, church volunteers, independent contractors, and the general public to reach all objectives.
The agency is posting regular updates on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Facebook page.
DesRosier said in the press that a a news report on Monday reported false information about the tribe turning an offer of assistance from the state. DesRosier said that this is not and never will be the stance of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council.
In the press release, DesRosier noted: "The Blackfeet Tribe would like to thank all the hard working plowers that are out there throughout the reservation working day and night to remove snow. It is a tough job. Once snow is removed, a new weather system moves in creating more work. These individuals have been working overtime, barely seeing their families throughout this disaster. They continue every day to try and keep the roads open. We ask that our community be patient and stay off the roads so that they can do their work in case of any emergency that may arise.
The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council posted the following message just after 10 a.m. on Tuesday:
BLACKFEET TRIBE DISASTER AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 27, 2018
ATTENTION FOR RESIDENTS OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION
HWY 89 SOUTH FROM DUPUYER TO BROWNING IS CLOSED
HWY 89 NORTH IS CLOSED FROM BROWNING TO ST. MARY
ROUTE 1 IS CLOSED
ROUTE 4-AWAITING UPDATE AT THIS TIME
ROUTE 8 IS OPEN TO HWY 89
ROUTE 6 OPEN
ROUTE 13 IS OPEN
DURHAM ROAD IS CLOSED FROM 89 W ACROSS TO THE RAILROAD TRACKS SOUTH
MISSION EAST OPEN AS FAR AS LEONARD GUARDIPEE
MISSION WEST-AWAITING UPDATE AT THIS TIME
HWY 464 IS CLOSED
SECONDARY 358 CUT BANK TO VALIER-CLOSED
BLACKFEET COMMUNITY HOSPITAL IS OPEN
HEART BUTTE CLINIC IS CLOSED
BIA IS CLOSED
STAY TUNED FOR UPDATED WEATHER REPORT AND WEATHER ADVISORY
THEY ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON THE WATER SITUATION IN HEART BUTTE.
IF YOU ARE OR GET STRANDED IN BROWNING, THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS IS PROVIDING AN EMERGENCY SHELTER AT THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH ANNEX. YOU MAY CALL 338-3900.
PLEASE BE SAFE AND DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THROUGH DRIFTS. THE SNOW IS PACKING AND MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR PLOWS TO WORK WHERE PEOPLE ARE STUCK. DO NOT GO AROUND A ROAD CLOSED SIGN. IT IS CLOSED FOR A REASON
WE ARE WORKING TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES TO GET ROUTES OPEN
THE MAIN PRIORITY FOR PLOWS IS TO TRY AND CLEAR THE MAIN ROADS AND STREETS. COOPERATION FROM THE PUBLIC WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. PLOWS WILL BE WORKING TO KEEP THESE ROUTES OPEN AND CONCENTRATE ON THE EMERGENCY PLOWING. IF YOU NEED TO GET PLOWED OUT TO GET BACK INTO YOUR HOME, YOU MAY HAVE TO HIRE A PRIVATE CONTRACTOR. WE ARE STILL TRYING TO ASSIST THOSE THAT ARE IN MOST NEED AND MEET THE EMERGENCY REQUIREMENTS.