Major Disaster Declared in Montana

On April 17th, President Obama issued a disaster declaration for the state of Montana affected by last month’s flooding.  This news comes after relief aid was requested by Governor Bullock on April 11th.  The flooding during March 1st-16th resulted from above average precipitation, greater temperature fluctuations, and thicker winter ice causing ice jams on streams and rivers.  The primary counties affected were: Broadwater, Dawson, Golden Valley, Jefferson, Lake, Musselshell, Park, Pondera, Prairie, Ravalli, Richland, Rosebud, Sanders, Stillwater, and Wheatland, though many more counties also incurred damage.


Clean-up near Florence, MT (Photo: Perry Backus from the Ravalli Republic)

The disaster declaration means that impacted areas may now apply for federal funds to aid in protective measures, repair of public infrastructure, and hazard mitigation projects. Application guidelines will be available soon.  For more information about the process of disaster response, visit:

There are several key steps that must happen before federal programs get involved with disasters, which may make the process appear to be frustratingly slow, yet is necessary in order to be thorough:

  1. Local Government Responds, supplemented by neighboring communities and volunteer agencies. If overwhelmed, turn to the state for assistance;
  2. The State Responds with state resources, such as the National Guard and state agencies;
  3. Damage Assessment by local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations determines losses and recovery needs;
  4. A Major Disaster Declaration is requested by the governor, based on the damage assessment, and an agreement to commit state funds and resources to the long-term recovery;
  5. FEMA Evaluates the request and recommends action to the White House based on the disaster, the local community and the state's ability to recover;
  6. The President approves the request or FEMA informs the governor it has been denied. This decision process could take a few hours or several weeks depending on the nature of the disaster.

What happens after a disaster declaration?

Find more resources on what to do after a disaster on the website.  There are FAQ’s, tips for removing mold, information about business and farm loans, and much more.  You can also visit the American Red Cross website and the National Flood Insurance Program website for more information.

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