By Elaine Forman
While Miles City’s flooding threat remains minimal for the time being, officials continue to prepare in case any problems arise with thunderstorm downpours or snow melting in the mountains.
Yellowtail Dam is emptying water into the Bighorn River, which flows into the Yellowstone River, and the Tongue River Reservoir is full, so any additional rain or snowmelt will raise the water levels at Miles City.
The Yellowstone River at Miles City was between 12.5 feet and 13 feet (flood stage) Tuesday morning. It is expected to get to 13.2 feet Saturday. That means there could be some lowland flooding. No moderate flooding threat is anticipated in the foreseeable future.
At the same time, the Tongue River here measures at 8.7 feet. Flood stage is 11 feet, and the river is not expected to rise, at least not by the weekend, according to National Weather Service reports.
Miles City Mayor Joe Whalen has activated an Incident Management Team to plan potential actions during or before imminent danger from flooding.
Monday morning the team met. City’s Public Works Director Bruce Larson said over the weekend he checked the dike five times last weekend and found no problems. He said the storm drain system and the slough seem to be “holding their own.”
He added that he could miss something and welcomes calls if anyone sees a problem spot.
The group discussed sandbagging and decided they would take sandbags to Billings, where a machine can fill 5,000 bags in an hour, so even with the travel time, it would be faster than filling them by hand.
The city and county have sandbags to protect services like the water treatment plant.
The city decided to fill its share of the sandbags so they will be ready to go.
Zabrocki said there are three warning sirens, and the radio stations and Billings news stations would carry information. Then there are P.A. systems that would be used in neighborhoods, as well as officials knocking on doors to alert people if any evacuations occur.
The team and city personnel will continue to meet one or two times per week (more often if the flooding potential increases).
Published June 15, 2011