MISSOULA – While flood waters are starting to recede, the process of recovering from May’s record floods is just beginning for hundreds of Missoula residents.
Missoula County officials will be presenting very specific information to help flooded residents to assess damage and start plans for recovery this weekend. The first step in accessing that help is a public meeting at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Hawthorne Elementary School.
"We will primarily have government entities available on hand at Hawthorne School to talk about, how do they determine whether their septic tank has been impacted, how to begin to get their well back on track," explained Missoula County Emergency Management Director Adriane Beck. "Damage assessments that may need to occur to provide individual assistance should that become available through other means."
While the Clark Fork River is expected to drop out of flood stage later Sunday, forecasters say there’s a continued threat of high water, especially in low lying neighborhoods. While snowmelt is becoming less of an issue this next week, the National Weather Service is saying there’s a "strong potential" for strong thunderstorms with heavy downpours Sunday afternoon and evening. And that could dump more water on already saturated soils.
Beck told reporters Friday there’s actually two types of recovery, helping those with damage from rising groundwater, and those impacted more by the river.
"Folks that live in that Tower-Kerwald area are still seeing active, flowing water through there. And so we intend to have some conversations with those folks about what their recovery picture looks like," Beck said.
"And it may be a little bit longer before they’re able to actually start their recovery process. Because the river’s changing every single day. And this flood event certainly has changed that river channel and there are conversations that we’ll need to have with those folks," Beck continued.
Beck says there’s still about 90 properties impacted by flood warnings and evacuations, which are remaining in place for now because of what she calls a "significant public safety hazard."