Governor Steve Bullock today issued an executive order declaring an emergency in Montana due to a severe early season storm. Areas hardest hit include Cascade, Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Pondera, and Teton counties and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier County, and Pondera County have issued local emergency declarations.
“With an unprecedented winter storm throwing our state a surprise in September, state and local governments are working closely together to protect the health and safety of Montanans and our top priority is making sure that happens,” Governor Bullock said. “Montanans should heed all warnings from state and local officials, travel safely, and be cautious during this time.”
The storm brought heavy, wet snow with accumulation amounts up to three feet in some locations. High winds have downed trees and power lines resulting in road closures, emergency travel conditions, intermittent cellular service and power outages. Unseasonably cold temperatures will delay snowmelt in some areas and bring the end of the growing season for some agricultural producers. The storm also has the potential to cause flooding in Montana.
“We were fortunate to receive several days of notice from the National Weather Service – which did a good job predicting the size and magnitude of this storm,” said Governor Bullock.
State agencies were able to preposition equipment and prioritize road clearing in cooperation with local jurisdictions. Given the proximity to Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Nation has a shelter on standby for stranded motorists.
The Montana State Emergency Coordination Center is working with all counties in the storm path to identify needs to critical lifeline services such as energy, communications, transportation, and emergency food, water, and shelter services. The State Emergency Coordination Center continues to receive declarations of emergencies from local and tribal jurisdictions.
The emergency order allows the utilization of all necessary state government services, equipment and suppliers to further the efforts of local governments in protecting the health and safety of Montanans. With the order, state resources can be mobilized to impacted counties with eligible expenses for emergency protective measures and debris removal.