State of emergency declared by Blackfeet due to snow - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

State of emergency declared by Blackfeet due to snow

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The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council declared a state of emergency on Monday.

Heart Butte has received more than 70 inches of snow just in the month of February. 

The snow has caused schools to shut down for seven days due to the extreme weather.

Superintendent Lee Folley said the community feels like they have been forgotten: "All of our community members are right now in dire situations because they can't get their medications, get out to do things, like dialysis, get groceries…”

Folley said Monday that help has arrived and equipment has been working to clear the roads. 

He said he wants the community to know he’s done everything in his power to get the ball rolling.

"We've done everything we possibly could. I've contacted agencies and trying to open, and we know how important it is to them."

Folley said because the tribe has declared a state of emergency, the days missed will not have to be made up. 

Heart Butte Schools will be open tomorrow with limited transportation and children will not be picked up by bus. 

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council posted the following message on Facebook on Monday afternoon:

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council drafted a Delegation of Authority to the Blackfeet Disaster and Emergency Director Robert DesRosier to activate an Incident Command Center due to the current weather incident.

The Blackfeet Tribe is working with other Governmental and Non-Governmental Entities to provide assistance in the form of resources such as plowing, medical and other emergencies associated with this event.

Please call 338-4000 or 911 for assistance.

Please be patient as we are working as quickly as possible to provide necessary services to the residents of the Blackfeet Reservation.

About 30 volunteers gathered at the United Methodist Church in Browning on Monday to address the critical needs of people on the Blackfeet Reservation after several winter storms closed roads and access to facilities.

According to Pastor Calvin Hill, the church has a local emergency response system but can now access national resources through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) as the Blackfeet Tribe moves forward with declaring a state of emergency.

Hill and many volunteers stressed that the main priority is people with medical emergencies such as dialysis or cancer treatment, elders, and people who are handicapped.

Due to many people being trapped by snowdrifts and impassable roads, supplies such as firewood, propane, and food are nearly impossible for them to obtain.

Items needed at this time include meats, potatoes, coffee, canned goods, and baby food. Personal hygiene products such as diapers are needed too.

The United Methodist Church gathering also stressed the need for snowmobiles in order to reach people who are snowed in around Heart Butte and Babb.

Hill said that he has requested six semi-truck loads of firewood and hopes that the wood will arrive in Browning sometime later this week.

Volunteers are needed to help cut and load the firewood for delivery across the reservation.

During the meeting, volunteers gathered and bagged about 1,500 pounds of rice, beans, and whole oats for delivery.

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