HELENA — As spring approaches, Lewis & Clark County reminds residents it’s time to start thinking about and planning for the flood season.
Right now, people should be thinking about purchasing flood insurance. In most cases, standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood events and most flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect. Additionally, the county says preparing for flooding is the most proactive mitigation action people can take.
MTN spoke with Helena residents for their preparations for the flood season.
Archie Harper tells MTN why the area in Helena near Kerr Drive is an easy target for floods. The homes are near Tenmile Creek. Right now, the creek is discharging water at around 20 cubic feet per second, but during heavy runoff and flood seasons, like the one in May of 2018, the discharge in parts of Tenmile Creek near Helena peaked at close to 700 cubic feet per second.
Harper lived in this area for more than 30 years and says he’s become familiar with the water.
"When we have that kind of water, within a day or two, we will start experiencing the water rise above the level above the grade of our basement floors. That's when you need to start taking action," says Harper.
With the potential of spring flooding around the corner, Harper, along with the county and the Helena Valley Flood Committee, advises his fellow community members to take steps to mitigate damage to your property and avoid a bigger issue should the water get to the basement.
“Think of the four-letter word, “mold,” says Harper. “Once the waters are gone, you're going to be dealing with mold issues. Think of what kind of substrates are best for growing mold: sheet rock in walls, behind walls, wood, and carpet. Those types of things, they need to go."
Along with removing the items, having a plan in place to get the water out is crucial. Harper showed MTN his pump system as an example. He has two pumps in his basement that pull the water out of the space.
Without a plan, the Helena Valley Flood Committee says they hear neighbors dealing with damages totaling $5,000 or more and many hours to repair.
“By the time the water gets to your place, usually it's too late to do anything. It's important to know to get your place in order to, so that when the water does come, you can prevent major damage," says Harold Begger, the Chairman of the Helena Valley Flood Committee.