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Gov. Brian Schweitzer will take a helicopter tour of flooding on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations on Friday before a 10:15 a.m. media briefing at Crow Agency.

An incident command center has been set up on the Crow Reservation, and the tribe is working jointly with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“It’s starting to slow down enough to where we are actually going out and assessing some of the rural areas, where people can’t get in or out,” said tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle.

While main roads are open, many rural access roads into individual homes are impassable. The tribe’s road crews are trying to make temporary repairs.

The flooding on the Crow Reservation has devastated at least 50 homes, as well washed out roads and damaged bridges.

Coroner Terry Bullis on Thursday identified a man whose body was found a few miles from Hardin on Tuesday as John Erwin Rex Jr., 62, of Hardin. It wasn’t immediately clear if his death was related to the flooding.

He said the death doesn’t appear to be suspicious but that the release of the cause of death is pending an autopsy investigation.

Bracing for more heavy rain forecast for Sunday, the incident command staff will continue to work through the weekend. Staff members are urging tribal members to carry identification if they must evacuate their homes.

How long shelters will remain open at Lodge Grass and Montana State University Billings depends on how quickly floodwaters recede, Black Eagle said. A medical team is now in place at the Billings shelter.

“Public safety is a key issue right now,” said Donald Spotted Tail, a tribal spokesman.

Because of concerns that saturated river banks might suddenly give way, he urged residents, especially children, to stay at least 15 feet away from flood waters.

A boil water recommendation also remains in place on the Crow Reservation.

Donations are being accepted at the Little Bighorn College Student Union Building. Needed items include bottled water, household items, toiletries, clothing, baby items and nonperishable food items. A fund has also been established at First Interstate Bank in Hardin for donations. Checks should be made out to the Crow Tribe Disaster Relief Fund.

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Contact Donna Healy at dhealy@billingsgazette.com or 657-1292.

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