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Montana's lieutenant governor declares statewide disaster as communities are hit by flooding

red lodge flooding sh.jpg
Courtesy Sandra Haisler
A portion of Rock Creek Bridge gets swept away in the flooding in Red Lodge on Monday.

Montana's Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras on Tuesday declared a statewide disaster as communities around the state continue to deal with severe flooding.

Carbon, Park and Stillwater counties have been hit the hardest, and other counties across the state — including Lincoln, Sweetgrass and Gallatin — are under a flood warning until mid-week.

The declaration allows the state to "expend funds from the general fund to meet contingencies and needs arising from these conditions."

Though Gianforte's office initially attributed the declaration to the governor, it was Lt. Gov. Juras who signed the order Tuesday as active governor while Gianforte is out of the country.

Montana Public Radio reports Gianforte authorized the declaration verbally Monday evening. His office did not say where Gianforte was traveling.

Gianforte tweeted his office is asking for an expedited federal disaster declaration to open up disaster relief funds.

Both Sen. Steve Daines and Sen. Jon Tester expressed support for communities impacted by the floods. Daines said in a statement he stands "ready to facilitate recovery efforts at the federal level."

Tester said in a tweet he's "closely monitoring" the situation in Montana and is "working with local, state, and federal officials to make sure that folks on the ground are getting the help they need ASAP."

No casualties have been reported. The Montana National Guard deployed two helicopters to help with search and rescue efforts yesterday in Roscoe, near Red Lodge, and Cooke City north of Yellowstone National Park.

The guard says it evacuated 12 people in those cities who were stranded because of the flooding. This (Tuesday) morning crews were assisting with a search and rescue effort near East Rosebud Lake west of Red Lodge.

On Monday the mayor of Laurel issued a local emergency declaration in response to "substantial and continuing heavy rains" that have caused the Yellowstone River to swell.

Updated: June 14, 2022 at 8:33 PM MDT
This story was updated at 8:32 p.m. Tuesday to reflect new information regarding who declared the statewide disaster.