FIRES LAST SUMMER. POSSIBLE FLASH FLOODS THIS YEAR?
A good crowd of folks from Ashland, the Northern Cheyenne Res-ervation, Otter Creek and Custer County areas gathered at the St. Labre Auditorium on Wednesday, March 6th to hear from the National Weather Ser-vice (NWS), Forest Service and Disas-ter Emergency Service (DES) person-nel.
The topic: we better prepare for the possibility of flash flooding this spring and summer as a result of the fires that ravaged the area last year. ―The threat of flooding has heightened—double what it is in nor-mal years,‖ warned Tom Frieders, NWS Warning Coordinator and Mete-orologist, Billings office. In normal conditions he said, the water soaks into the ground and for-est litter and the trees store water, but as a result of the fires, the soil has formed a ―concrete‖ surface. Water then runs down carrying much debris and sediment. Steepness of the terrain is also a factor. ―The impacts of flooding are greater in the first year after the fires. Even one-third inch of rain in fifteen minutes can cause spring flooding, he said. Andy Efta, Forest Service
Hydrologist reported that the Forest Service conducted an assessment of local burns to identify areas most at risk. The Forest Service applied for and received Wildlands Fire Suppres-sion funds to make improvements where flooding might occur. Im-provements will be made this spring and summer, including culvert en-hancement where roads could be flooded. ―If you are in a potential flood area, be aware of the threat of quick rainfall and be ―ready to go‖, Frieders advised. He urged local residents to plan in advance by: contacting local officials when conditions warrant; having an evacuation plan/escape route; preparing emergency supply kits (see ready.gov for ideas) and staying informed.
Frieders also talked about the importance of ―not driving in any area of moving water, especially roadways. ―It takes less than one foot of water to wash a vehicle off the road. This causes many flood-related fatalities,‖ he warned.
Rosebud County Commis-sioner Ed Joiner, also the former
A good number of folks from the Ashland area turned out to hear a National Weather Service report about the danger of flash floods as a result of the heavy fires that ravaged the area last summer.
Tribal DES Coordinator com-mented ―This is not good news. It sounds like the poten-tial for flash flooding is very high.‖ Ron Spang, acting tribal DES coordinator and Pat Dennis, Deputy DES Coordi-nator for Rosebud County who planned the event shared Joiner‘s concerns. ―We need to prepare for this possibility,‖ Dennis urged. ―People in high risk areas can let us know in advance, so we can be better prepared.‖ Contact telephone num-bers for area DES agencies are: Carole Raymond, Rosebud County Coordinator 346-7968; Pat Dennis, Rosebud County Deputy DES Coordinator: 740-0252; Tribal DES office: 477-6914.