HELENA – People living in the Helena Valley have been dealing with high water for weeks and on Wednesday water was once again running across roads and through properties.
Seth Dombach had water across much of his front yard. He tried to dig a channel to redirect some of that water into a nearby culvert.
“We had sandbags across almost all the way to my neighbors’, but then cleaned that up about a week and a half ago,” he said. “And then rain came again.”
Many Valley residents said they have been pumping water out of their basements continuously since late April or early May. Some said the water levels Wednesday were as high as or higher than they had been at the worst of the May flooding.
Dombach said the latest surge of flooding came as a surprise. “People were sandbagging all night last night because there was literally no warning enough – until it’s too late and people are sandbagging in two feet deep of water,” he said.
Lewis and Clark County leaders have set up an incident command post at the West Valley Fire Station. From there, they are keeping an eye on conditions around the county.
“We have responders in Lincoln, Augusta and in Helena – especially in the Helena Valley – who are monitoring the flooding and the road conditions,” said Gayle Shirley, public information officer for the county’s emergency operations center.
As of Wednesday, Edgerton Road was the only road in the Helena Valley to be closed for flooding. Water was running across parts of Mill Road, McHugh Lane and Forestvale Road.
“We do have signs out asking people to reduce their speed, to avoid having huge water wakes flowing into people’s yards and homes,” said Shirley. “We also ask that people stay away from flooded areas – we don’t want them to be part of the problem.”
County leaders are preparing for the possibility of more rain over the coming days, which could extend the flooding danger.
“We have to be adaptable, and respond as things change,” Shirley said. “This incident command structure will help us be more flexible, and be able to ramp up if things get worse, ramp down if things improve.”
Dombach said he’s hopeful the waters won’t remain as long as they did in May. But he said the need won’t stop once the flood is over. “It would be great to hopefully get support when the water goes down,” he said.
Dombach said his family has received help from their church community and other neighbors, but that many people don’t have that type of support network. “There’s a lot of people going to be hurting,” he said.