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Billings neighborhood bouncing back after canal overflow

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Posted at 9:53 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 23:53:31-04

BILLINGS — The Billings North Side neighborhood impacted by a canal overflow was bouncing back Monday, as Red Cross crews worked to assess damages and city crews cleaned the streets.

Street sweepers were circling around the 2000 Block of Burnstead Drive and other city workers cleared silt and debris from storm drains in the afternoon. Vans from various damage remediation companies were seen on the street, cleaning out first floor apartments that received water damage.

Staff with the Red Cross were hard at work Monday creating clean up kits to deliver to people with damaged homes, said Sherrilyn Hamilton, disaster program specialist for the Red Cross. The Red Cross shelter that was set up at Cedar Hall on the Metrapark campus was taken down at 3 p.m. Monday, Hamilton said.

“We didn’t have anyone come in and want to stay, so we pivoted to be on the ground. Now we’re setting up to deliver clean up kits," Hamilton said.

Sherrilyn Hamilton, Red Cross disaster program specialist, prepared clean up kits for residents of water-damaged apartment buildings in Billings.

Hamilton said Red Cross staff started work Monday on assessing the damages incurred by apartment buildings in the area of the overflow. The assessment should be complete Tuesday.

“We contact the property manager if it’s an apartment complex. We work directly with them. We get a tenant list and then we go just to the affected apartments," Hamilton said.

Homeowners with damages who would like help from the Red Cross are asked to call 800-272-6668.

Billings resident Colin Skinner, 19, first heard of the overflow while at work at the Phillips 66 refinery over the police scanner. Skinner and his grandmother live on the second floor of an apartment building in the evacuation area.

Skinner said he wasn't sure if his grandmother heard the news of the evacuation because she wasn't answering the phone and left work early to make sure she got out.

“I was like, ‘Oh no, flooding up there. I hope it doesn’t get bad.’ And then the next thing you know, I see a Facebook post about it. And I’m like, maybe I should go wake up my grandma because I called her and she wasn’t picking up. So I was like, ‘Oh, okay. Maybe I’ll go wake her up," Skinner said.

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Billings resident Colin Skinner speaks with MTN News near the area of canal overflow on the 2000 block of Burnstead Drive in Billings.

Skinner said his grandmother stayed in the shelter until they were allowed back in their home around 6 p.m. Sunday.

Work continued on Monday to stabilize the canal. City-contracted geologic and excavation crews are working on a different problem on the canal that overflowed. Cracks in the earth have developed in the canal's bank near North 15th Street and the bank appears to be slipping down the hill due to gravity.

Billings Public Works Director Debi Meling said crews will drive soil nails in to the top third of the bank to keep it stabilized. As well, the excavation crews will shave some dirt off the top of the bank, called overburden, to lessen the amount of weight pushing down.

The stabilization work is expected to take a week to complete, Meling said.

RELATED: Evacuated Billings residents return home after Sunday canal overflow