Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be arriving in Montana on Sunday to begin assessing damage statewide from flooding in early March.
The preliminary-damage teams will be looking at only public infrastructure, said Ed Tinsley, the division administrator for Montana Disaster and Emergency Services.
Lewis and Clark County did not have enough flood-related damage to meet the level required for a FEMA evaluation, Tinsley said.
Whatever damage the county had to its roads, bridges and other infrastructure was less than the amount that would qualify for a FEMA evaluation.
State DES staff will accompany the teams as they meet with county, city and tribal officials to gauge the damage. Tinsley did not have the tribal damage estimate immediately available, but said initial, rough figures from the four cities and 15 counties indicated some $2.5 million in damage.
The FEMA staff is scheduled to return to its Denver office by Friday and begin to compile the information and determine which of these jurisdictions has enough damage to qualify for FEMA assistance.
Tinsley said he wasn’t sure how long the federal agency would need to make its determinations.
The damage that meets FEMA’s “indicator levels” would then be reported to Gov. Steve Bullock, who could request a presidential disaster declaration.
If that request is granted by the president, FEMA would send in teams to prepare reports on what portion of the damage the agency would pay for. Counties must spend their existing emergency funds on repairs to be eligible for FEMA assistance.
The process of bringing FEMA to Montana would be repeated if there were flood damage later this year as mountain snowpack melts.