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Heavy rains in northern Lewis and Clark County flooded Augusta and closed nearly 20 miles of Highway 287 Sunday.

A flood warning for northwestern Montana extending down into the county was sent out by the National Weather Service early Sunday. The NWS expects flooding to last for a few days and for most of the impacts to be west of I-15, according to the online forecast.

The Gibson Reservoir is nearing capacity as well. The Cascade County Sheriff's Office warned the public that the reservoir will be opened to release an "overburden of water" that will cause some flooding in low-lying areas near the Sun River. A press release from the sheriff's office said the flooding should subside by Tuesday, depending on weather.

NWS said flooding likely was to continue Monday as rain and swollen rivers rose. The Dearborn River in Lewis and Clark County is expected to crest at just under moderate flood stage level and stay high into the middle of the week. Other rivers and creeks are expected to rise with it.

Elk Creek in Augusta was sending water into main street Memorial Day morning. Sheriff Leo Dutton said the reason Highway 287 was closed was due to the fact "there is no way to get around Augusta."

This is the second year in a row Augusta has been in the crosshairs of floodwaters. Elk Creek knocked out a bridge near the town and caused some ranchers to have to detour all the way to Choteau to get to the town, which is less than a mile away as the crow flies.

Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Susan Good Geise said the Augusta community is volunteering, filling sandbags and helping their neighbors as best they can.

"The volunteerism in Augusta is really something else," Geise said.

Geise has been touring the town and talking to residents about how to stay safe.

"We haven't seen the worst of it yet," Geise said Monday. "Water is coming up from a little bit higher and some of those places are reporting very heavy moisture."

Wakes from trucks on Main Street are overwhelming sandbags set up on the sidewalks, but Geise was unsure if the flooding was worse this year.

"It's not as deep yet as it was last year," Geise said. "But out in the hinterlands it is as bad and may be worse."

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Crime and Health Reporter

Crime and health reporter for the Helena Independent Record.

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