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Hundreds Urged To Evacuate As Montana Floods

Nate Hegyi
Mountain West News Bureau
A flooded neighborhood in Missoula, Montana.

While Colorado and Utah didn’t get a lot of snow this winter, the Northern Rockies did. But now those record-breaking snowpacks are melting really fast and causing some of the worst flooding in more than four decades.

In Montana’s second largest city, at least one neighborhood is already inundated. At least 60 homes are under a mandatory evacuation order, and hundreds more have been given evacuation warnings.

“Right now the water is flooding the neighborhood,” homeowner John Ifejika said. “I’ve been told it’s around twelve feet and rising.”

Officials said the Clark Fork River is expected to hit its highest levels since 1975 by the weekend.

Meteorologists blame the flooding on recent heavy rainfall and a fast-melting snowpack.

Nursing student Rachel Luger just bought a house near the river. Right now her street is dry but she has received an evacuation warning.

“We’ll just try and cooperate and get out of here if we need to,” she said.

Meteorologists said rivers and streams throughout the northern Rockies could continue flooding until late June. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has declared a state of emergency and some homes in Missoula could remain inundated with water until summer.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.