FLOODING

Flooding hits Huntley; Interstate 90 remains closed

2011-05-22T06:00:00Z 2011-12-22T17:52:01Z Flooding hits Huntley; Interstate 90 remains closedGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
May 22, 2011 6:00 am  • 

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.:  Floodwaters from Pryor Creek effectively stranded the community of Pompeys Pillar and completely flooded residents living off South Canal Drive in Huntley on Sunday.

All the effected residents in Huntley could do was watch from afar as what used to be a small creek raged like a river through their community. Once they realized the water had started coming into their back yards on Saturday night, it was just a matter of hours until the water level had risen to their calves.

Farther down the road on the other side of Interstate 94, Pryor Creek has surged out of its banks and spread hundreds of feet wide, flooding fields and some houses along on Pryor Creek Road. The road is washed out just past the start of Hogan Road.

UPDATE 1 p.m.: It would be easier to list places in Eastern Montana that are not swamped with floodwaters.

"We've got flooding in every county," said Tom Humphrey, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Billings.

He ticked off a long list of inundated counties: The Yellowstone and the Tongue rivers are over their banks near Miles City in Custer County. Roads are washed out everywhere there.

"They've got flooding all over the place," he said.

In Rosebud County, the Yellowstone is above flood stage at Forsyth and basements throughout the county are filling because of high groundwater. U.S. Highway 12 is closed between Ingomar and Forsyth.

Barns and homes are flooding along Rock Creek below Cooney Dam in Carbon County. Some roads in Stillwater and Sweet Grass counties are impassible.

Four to six inches of rain in Fallon and Carter counties have washed out roads and threatened bridges. In southern Carter County, stock dams have failed and Box Elder Creek has closed  U.S. Highway 323 south of Ekalaka. U.S. Highway 277 is closed and possibly washed out in spots. Groundwater is flooding many basements.

In Fallon, several bridges have water flowing over them and are in jeopardy of being washed out, including City Bridge in Baker and Brown Bridge.

NOON UPDATE: Flood waters are increasingly isolating Big Horn County, Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator Ed Auker said late Sunday morning.

In addition to closure of Interstate 90 from Hardin to Ranchester, Wyo., high water has swamped many major roads throughout the county.

"If Highway 47 isn't closed it should be," he said. Forty-seven connects Hardin to Custer and Interstate 94.

The road between Pryor and Billings is closed, as is Highway 315 between St. Xavier and Fort Smith. Auker said he has heard reports of water running 2 feet over bridges at Rotten Grass Creek and Soap Creek, both tributaries of the Bighorn River.

At the intersection of Highway 212 and Interstate 90 - the road to Little Bighorn Battlefield and Lame Deer - water was over the hood of a vehicle that went around a barricade set up there, he said. No one was hurt.

The lower section of Lodge Grass is also cut off. There is no way to get from Lodge Grass to Interstate 90 because of high water in the lower part of the town.

Auker said there is also water over the Kirby-Decker Road.

The Crow Tribe is dealing with flooding throughout the reservation, but emergency personal at Crow Agency said they were too busy to talk.

UPDATE 9:50 a.m.: An overflowing Pryor Creek has flooded several homes and businesses in Huntley. Fire crews are also at the scene of a house fire in a flooded neighborhood in Huntley. More details to come.

UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: Travelers hoping to use Interstate 90 to drive between Hardin and Wyoming are still out of luck.

I-90 remains closed due to flooding of the Little Bighorn River and other area streams. Secondary highways and frontage roads also remain closed, according to the Department of Transportation.

Some truckers and other motorists are waiting out the closure at the Flying J Truck Stop in Hardin, while others are circling back to eastbound Interstate 94 to find another route into Wyoming and points south.

UPDATE 6 a.m.: Interstate 90 between Hardin and the Wyoming state line remains closed Sunday morning.

The Department of Transportation has not set up a detour, as many secondary roads remain flooded. 

Highway 314, the Decker Road, remains closed. Portions of Highway 313, the road from Hardin to Fort Smith, are also closed.

INITIAL REPORT: Flooding in southeastern Montana led to a voluntary evacuation in the Blue Creek area and an emergency declaration on the Crow Reservation on Saturday.

It also forced officials to shut down Interstate 90 between Hardin and the Wyoming state line as well as the cancellation of graduation ceremonies at Lodge Grass High School and Plenty Coups High School in Pryor.

The good news is that the National Weather Service in Billings said rain was expected to taper off overnight into Sunday, even as flood watches and warnings were posted for all of southeastern Montana and Sheridan County in Wyoming.

The Billings Fire Department asked Saturday for a voluntary evacuation of homes on Aviemore Court near Briarwood as Blue Creek continued to flood with nearly 3 inches of new rain since Thursday. Aviemore Court also flooded on May 10.

"Blue Creek is almost up to the highway in that area," Battalion Chief Boyd Vopel said. "The houses there are not really in the water, but it's like a moving lake or a river around them."

The alert said people who choose to stay could be stuck in their homes for up to 48 hours. Bender Road also was blocked due to heavy flooding, and Jene Helene Avenue was flooded about a quarter-mile north of the intersection with Aqui Esta Drive.

 

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