Yesterday Yellowstone County declared a local state of emergency in preparation for the potential of record-setting water levels on the Yellowstone River here in Billings. A similar water level rise is forecast for the Clarks Fork River throughout much of Carbon County.
This is still just a forecast rise in the river and is contingent upon a major rain event over the course of the weekend. As of this moment model runs are diverging on the amount of rainfall we expect to see and this will greatly influence the outcomes as far as flooding is concerned.
That being said, anytime major flooding is a possibility you need to be aware of the potential impacts and prepare accordingly.
That is exactly what Carbon County Director of Disaster and Emergency Service Tom Kohley and his team have been trying to do over the course of the last few weeks. Carbon County declared a state of emergency on May 22 and have been working to prepare themselves for the possibility of major flooding.
Kohley said that they have sandbags at the ready, but not too much can be done this far in advance, as the exact spot the river might breach is tough to predict. They have recognized areas of concern in places like Fromberg, Belfry and Edgar.
What they do in the interim is identify critical infrastructure that is likely to be affected in the event of major flooding and establish their criteria for what he calls “trigger points,” or when they would issue an evacuation notice.
Kohley said they are in contact with the state DES to make sure they will have all the resources they need to respond to flooding impacts in their communities.
He feels that they are well prepared and now they are simply watching the weather forecasts and staying as informed as they possibly can.
That is sound advice for what you can do for yourself to protect your property in the case of flooding, as the county DES cannot identify all the threats to private property. Stay up to date on forecasts and identify areas that could be flood prone and be prepared to sand bag if necessary.