HELENA — The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Helena area just before 7:30 PM Sunday evening.
A fast-moving storm sent a torrent of water down North Last Chance Gulch and other downtown area streets.
Damage was rampant throughout the downtown area.
Downtown businesses reported water damage, and the storm took out trees and tree limbs around the city.
The flood left mud, gravel, and dirt in many areas.
Dave Burningham, owner of Golden Girls Antique Mall, had minimal damage to the shop but spent much of morning on the 4th of July shoveling debris out of his parking lot.
"I'm gonna say 700 pounds so far and I've still got a couple more to go,” says Burningham.
Just up the street at Aunt Bonnie’s Books, owners Lauren and Matt Thomson also avoided serious to their store.
“Yeah, there seems to be a little bit of water in front of the front door here but none of the books are wet, none of the carpet is really wet, so very fortunate,” says Lauren Thomson.
But just across the street, Sage and Oats shop co-owner Major Robinson, and building co-owner Matt Bitz say that the flooding was much more extensive.
“And I noticed there was a bunch of hail that had collected in the office and in the bathroom which was surprising 'cause there was no leaks on the roof or anything. But apparently after looking at it closer, that it had come up through the toilet and the pressure had just forced all of the hail and water right up onto the floor,” says Robinson.
Despite the water, Bitz says that the damage to the building and businesses seems limited. He tells MTN that he will have restoration and flooring experts in the building this week.
“It’d be a huge bummer to see people dragging wet, you know, inventory out of their store. So, we can dry out floors, we can dry out basements, those sorts of things. But it's nice to see that people’s stock hasn't been impacted...At the moment counting ourselves fortunate based on the amount of water we saw coming down the street last night, counting ourselves, I think a little bit fortunate that the damage isn't any worse than it is,” says Bitz.
Bitz says that these business owners are resilient folk. Additionally, Robinson, of Sage and Oats, says that he plans to have the shop back open on Tuesday, July 5th.
“I have no doubt in my mind that will get things put back to rights and doors will be open and you know folks will be getting back to the summer trade,” says Bitz.
A relielf fund has been set up to support non-profits affected by the flooding. The Helena Area Emergency Relief Fund was put together by the Helena Area Community Foundation in partnership with the United Way of the Lewis and Clark area.