Being Flood Aware in the Backwoods

Living in the urban interface creates many unique situations that as city dwellers we tend to take for granted. So when planning your building site/location always consider the proximity of seasonal drainages and creeks that might wield unsuspected surprises during springtime runoff. Small waterways can be amazingly powerful when the warm weather melts the snow from the peaks above. These waterways become fierce contenders when more water tries to deluge them than the creek bed has capacity to hold.

A couple of handy tips when you prepare your landscape to withstand such events include the following:

Be sure that natural drainage areas are cleared of debris. A glance around your yard and into the exterior surroundings will give you an idea of where water has runoff in the past. Before you pick up that shovel and fill low spots in your driveway, consider what caused them in the first place. The last thing you want to do is divert low spots by filling them up so that runoff now heads toward your foundation instead of the path of least resistance.

Go on a scavenger hunt for items such as branches, large stones, fallen trees, objects from your yard that may have blown into the ditch on windy days such as buckets, children’s toys, leftover lumber, tires, etc…you get the drift. (no pun intended) These things will get washed along with the runoff until they are lodged against a narrow spot causing the water to overflow around them. Roads get washed out and anything in shallow areas will become inundated with water. Culverts are a natural place these things lodge against and many wash out during springtime flooding. Save yourself from rebuilding and reinstalling them by maintaining the area prior to springtime thaw. You can click on the photos below for a closer look at the destruction caused by spring flooding near my home in Wolf Creek.

For more info on Flooding in the Helena area visit the following site from L&C County: http://www.co.lewis-clark.mt.us/flooding      This website link has a helpful form called  “Homeowner Damage Assessment Form” and “After the Flood, water and mold Cleanup” PDF for your convenience.

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