It was an amazing week for volunteers in Missoula as friends, neighbors and strangers met to fill sandbags and support those who were displaced by the rising waters of the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers.

At the Monday briefing with the Office of Emergency Management, Public Information Officer Mel Holtz shared some remarkable numbers.

“Sandbagging operations moved to the new site at Fort Missoula, and Team Rubicon has done a phenomenal job over there,” said Holtz. “We’ve got an additional 100,000 sandbags coming in. Over 1,350 volunteers have responded to help with sandbagging, and they’ve filled just over 74,000 sandbags which is the equivalent of 1,480 tons of sand.”

Holtz said even thought there is a short respite with flood waters receding over the weekend, that will change with warmer weather and predicted thunderstorms and possible heavy rain later in the week.

Another of the team members was introduced from the Type Three Incident Management Team, Joe Blattner with Missoula County Search and Rescue, who was tasked with monitoring and assisting those residents who chose top stay with their property during this incident.
“One of our primary duties is to ensure safety of the individuals who have decided to stay around and protect their property,” said Blattner. “Search and Rescue is ready to respond. We’re anticipating and expecting to be utilized in the next many days as the flood waters continue to shift around. As a result, we have over a dozen Search and Rescue personnel who are swift water rescue technicians who are ready to respond, whether it is helping with an evacuation, a river rescue, or any other operation that the incident management team needs.”

Holtz said the trailers that were swept off their foundations last week are still in the Clark Fork River, as efforts to secure them with heavy equipment were unsuccessful.

“Our Search and Rescue safety guys have been down there, we did make an attempt to go down there and retrieve those trailers, but it was simply too unsafe to do so, and as we are getting footage from there we see that one of the trailers is completely gone, while another one has broken off and parts of it are in the Clark Fork River.”

There are still 63 confirmed mandatory evacuations, with over 800 homes under an evacuation warning.

There will be another public meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Monday at Hawthorne Elementary School on 3rd Street.