Lewis and Clark County commissioners declared a flood emergency Tuesday after heavy rains throughout Memorial Day weekend caused flooding damage in north and central Lewis and Clark County.
“The declaration is a starting point should the event become a FEMA declaration,” Lewis and Clark County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Reese Martin said in a Tuesday press release. “While everything is still underwater and we don’t yet know the extent of the damages to public and critical infrastructure, we do know from experience with last year’s floods much damage was revealed as the flood waters receded.”
Weekend storms faded and rivers along the Rocky Mountain Front crested by Tuesday morning, but downstream rivers are still above flood levels, according to the National Weather Service’s Great Falls office.
The weather service noted early Tuesday morning in a flood warning update for Lewis and Clark, Glacier, Pondera and Teton counties that flooding will continue downstream of the Rocky Mountain Front through Tuesday or Wednesday.
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Heavy weekend rains caused flooding along the front, ultimately forcing the Sunday closure of nearly 20 miles of U.S. Highway 287 from Augusta to the Montana Highway 200 junction at Bowman's Corner. That section of road remained closed as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Montana Department of Transportation, as does a 3-mile stretch of Montana Highway 21 east of Augusta.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Sunday the reason Highway 287 closed was due to the fact "there is no way to get around Augusta."
Meteorologists forecast mostly sunny skies in Augusta Tuesday with a chance of thunderstorms to follow on Thursday.
Portions of Lewis and Clark, Big Horn, Cascade, Chouteau, Glacier, Judith Basin, Petroleum, Pondera, Teton, Toole and Wheatland counties are under NWS flood warnings as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.