Authorities watching fluctuating Missoula water levels

Posted at 11:49 AM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 13:49:05-04

MISSOULA – The Clark Fork River in Missoula is expected to continue to fall slightly within the moderate flood stage until Wednesday or Thursday.

However, the river is then expected to rise again, reaching major flood stage on Friday with a crest of 13.76 feet predicted for Saturday.

Residents are still being strongly encouraged to plan and prepare for evacuation orders as well as to sign up for the Missoula County Smart911 alerts.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed the Clark Fork River from the Reserve Street Bridge in Missoula to Kona Bridge to all recreation on Monday due to dangers caused by downed power lines in the river and high-water levels full of hazardous debris.

Incident Command recommended the closure for public safety, after flood waters tipped power poles into the Clark Fork on Sunday. FWP says the closure will remain while power lines and other river debris are creating unsafe conditions.

The closure applies to all water-based recreation, including, but not limited to: wading, swimming, fishing, floating, boating. Click here for more information on FWP river access site closures and restrictions.

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 the evening of Friday, May 12.

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

However, authorities say that as conditions allow some homeowners may be allowed into isolated areas to perform additional preventive measures to protect their homes.

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

Road Closures:

  • Tower Street closed to all traffic, north of 3rd Street
  • 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
  • Short Street (and connectors) open to local traffic only
  • Preston Street (and connectors) open to local traffic only
  • Hiberta Street north of Third open to local traffic only
  • Stonybrook Drive open to local traffic only

Sandbag Stations: 

  • Fort Missoula – Volunteers can help fill sandbags from 9 a.m. until 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 Avenue.
  • Seeley Lake – Sandbags can be obtained at the Seeley Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Resources to purchase sand are limited. Monetary donations through United Way of Missoula County go toward purchasing sand. Sandbagging operations will continue depending on availability of sand, sandbags and volunteers. Missoula County Public Works has distributed 72,500 sandbags in the County to date, and the U.S. Army Corps has delivered 100,000 sandbags to Missoula County to date, with 100,000 more on the way.

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 (1345 W. Broadway, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday), a Culligan water truck will be at Wheat Montana (2520 S. 3rd St. W.) until further notice to provide potable water. In both cases 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.
  • The Health Department recommends ensuring tetanus shots are up to date. The department’s walk-in clinic offers vaccinations on a sliding fee scale. Call (406) 258-3363 for more information.

Montana FWP has closed the following sites:

  • Sha-Ron Fishing Access Site
  • Kelly Island Fishing Access Site (all access points)
  • Kona Fishing Access Site
  • Deep Creek Fishing Access Site
  • Harpers Bridge Fishing Access Site
  • Council Grove State Park

Public Information: 

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