HAMILTON – Ravalli County leaders will be dealing with three key problems this week.
How to clear the remaining roads inundated in last week’s storms, where to store all the snow, and looking ahead to the risk of flooding.
Ravalli County commissioners declared a snow emergency late last week after the Bitterroot received anywhere from 2′-to-3′ of snow.
And with temperatures expected to remain below normal, Commissioner Greg Chilcott says it’s not only clearing the remaining roads of snow but figuring out where to put all the snow that is plowed up.
“We’ve run into problems about where to move snow off the road now because the roadsides are full,” Chilcott said. “And then, once the weather changes and we start getting some higher temperatures, where the waters going to go as the snow melts. So those are all concerns that we’re trying to get in front of and be prepared for.”
Although temperatures aren’t expected to spike anytime soon, the Bitterroot can have its problems with rapidly rising temperatures, and rain pushing creeks and ditches beyond their banks.
That happened in 2014 with flooding east of Florence, and two years ago around Corvallis, Pinesdale, and Hamilton.
In those circumstances, it’s up to individual property owners to deal with flooding problems on their property, although Chilcott says the county will provide support, and care for public facilities like roads and bridges.
He advises people who’ve had flooding problems before to get ahead of any problems by assessing their own risks.
“People need to be prepared and they need to look down the road to see where the problems could come from,” Chilcott said. “We have a history of this happening, not often, and sometimes we forget. But we’ll be doing everything we can to help people prepare and respond. I know that we’ll have sand available if we do start seeing flooding for people to help protect their property.”
If flooding does begin in the Bitterroot, sand and bags will be staged at local fire stations.