Missoula flood levels expected to rise again, public meeting set

Posted at 10:52 AM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 12:52:26-04

MISSOULA – The floodwaters have dipped slightly along the Clark Form River in Missoula, but the reprieve is expected to only be a temporary one.

Officials predict the Clark Fork River above Missoula will continue to decrease slightly within the moderate flood stage until Wednesday or Thursday when it is predicted to rise to major flooding.

Due to rising temperatures, water levels are expected to rise back into the major flood stage and crest again sometime Friday evening or Saturday morning at or above levels experienced last week.

A public meeting to discuss the Missoula flooding will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday at Hawthorne Elementary School on Third Street.

A warning was sent out Saturday to an additional 2,205 residents who live along the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers, notifying them of potential flood hazards and that evacuation may become necessary. Residents are being strongly encouraged to plan and prepare for evacuation orders.

Flood waters have tipped over power poles at the end of Tower Street over the weekend, spanning across the river to Schmidt Lane. Power lines in the water are causing a significant safety hazard for anyone recreating on the Clark Fork River.

The public is advised not to recreate in the water at this time, as it poses a significant danger to themselves and also raises the possibility of pulling search and rescue operations away from other important duties.

The combination of a very large snowpack and recent precipitation has resulted in early season flooding. The Clark Fork River above Missoula crested at 13.82 feet – major flood stage and the second-highest on record – on Friday evening.

The Sheriff’s Office has established roadblocks in the Orchard Homes area, on Harpers Bridge Road and Hamel Road. Residents who are under an evacuation order will not be allowed back in past the roadblocks.

An evacuation order remains in effect for the following areas:

  • Tower Street, north of 3rd Street
  • Kehrwald Drive
  • Channel Drive
  • Nancy Lou Drive
  • Keck Street and Stone Street – north of Flamingo Drive
  • Schmidt Road
  • Off Mullan Road
  • South Harpers Bridge Road
  • Hamel Road
  • Under the Reserve Street Bridge

Due to danger from flooding conditions, residents are being ordered to evacuate immediately. Affected residents should check in at the information trailer set up in the Wheat Montana parking lot on the corner of Third and Reserve streets.

Road Closures:

  • Tower Street closed to all traffic
  • Nancy Lou Drive closed to all traffic
  • Stone Street, north of Flamingo Drive closed to all traffic
  • Schmidt Road closed to all traffic
  • Harpers Bridge Road closed to all traffic
  • Hamel Road closed to all traffic

Missoula County has set up a sandbagging station and central resources hub at the following locations:

  • Fort Missoula: Volunteers can help fill sandbags from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check in with a Team Rubicon representative upon arrival. Volunteers must have current health insurance to help with sandbagging. The location is across the road from the Child Development Center, located at 3335 Lt Moss Road.
  • Missoula County Detention Center: Sandbags can be picked up in the east parking lot, 2340 Mullan Road. Limited supply of filled sandbags are currently available.
  • Frenchtown Fire Station 1: Self-fill sandbag station, filled and unfilled sandbags and sand are available at 16875 Marion Street in Frenchtown
  • East Missoula Fire Department: Self-fill sandbag station, filled and unfilled sandbags and sand are available at 314 Montana Ave. in East Missoula
  • Seeley Lake: Sandbags can be obtained at the Seeley Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Shelter Information:

American Red Cross shelters are on standby and ready to assist in Missoula and Seeley Lake. Residents seeking shelter should call 1-800-272-6668.

Potable Water:

In addition to Missoula Water providing access to potable water, a Culligan water truck will be at Wheat Montana until further notice to provide potable water to those in need. In both cases,m people should bring clean containers to fill with water.

Health Safety:

  • Avoid Contact with Floodwater: Flood water is not the same as normal river water and contains potential contaminants
  • Bacteria and viruses from septic systems can cause infection and illness.
  • Other materials like household cleaners and chemicals, lawn care products, and pesticides can cause skin irritation, rash and allergic reaction. 
  • Those who must work in flood-inundated areas should cover their skin with some type of water impermeable (rubber) boots and gloves and wash exposed areas with soap and water and rinse thoroughly immediately after exposure
  • The Health Department recommends ensuring tetanus shots are up to date. The department’s walk-in clinic offers vaccinations on a sliding fee scale. 406-258-3363

Stay Alert:

  • Sign up for Smart 911 alerts ( to receive emergency notifications from Missoula County.

The public should not violate roadblocks or trespass on private property. Deputies are patrolling evacuated areas to protect private property. Avoid traveling in flooded areas. The public should avoid flooded areas altogether. Any increase in traffic can hinder response efforts and create safety hazards.

Do not attempt to recreate in the water. We are experiencing water levels not seen since the 1970s. River levels are high, currents are fast and debris is widespread.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have closed the following sites on the Clark Fork River:

  • Sha-Ron
  • Kelly Island (all access points)
  • Kona
  • Deep Creek
  • Council Grove State Park.
  • FWP also closed the gates or created temporary barriers at many other FASs around the region along the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers.

A flood information line, 258-INFO, has been established and is staffed from 9: a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Callers will hear an updated recording after hours. A public information trailer is set up at the Wheat Montana parking lot and is staffed from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Information is posted after hours.