Here’s the entire story from Matt Volz of the Associated Press:
Flooding on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation has left more than 200 homes without drinking water, forced the evacuation of at least 38 families and cut off access to the reservation’s only health clinic, a Chippewa Cree tribal leader said Tuesday.
A dam is threatening to overflow and several roads are impassable on the reservation in north-central Montana, Chippewa Cree Executive Administrative Officer Neil Rosette said.
More than 4 inches of rain has fallen on the reservation since Thursday, adding to already unseasonably high amounts of spring rain.
Now, the water won’t recede from the saturated land and tribal leaders are working with engineers with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and state emergency personnel to figure out what to do.
“There’s nowhere for it to go,” Rosette said of the water.
The flooding and erosion from the flooding has caused 10 water main breaks, leaving 205 homes on the reservation without potable water, Rosette said. It was not immediately clear how many of those homes have been evacuated.
The rainfall has filled the reservation’s Agency Dam to its brim — the highest level tribal leaders have seen — leading to the evacuation of 38 homes downstream, Rosette said. Those families were staying at a hotel in nearby Havre.
The road to the health clinic is flooded and there may be structural damage to the building that makes it unsafe, he said. A temporary clinic has been set up at the Chippewa Cree Roads Department, but only limited cases can be handled there. Others are being referred to a clinic in Havre.
The tribe says that five homes have received major damage and approximately 500 other housing units have received water damage. Approximately 280 tribal employees have been placed on leave due to the flooding.
The Rocky Boy’s reservation is Montana’s smallest, home to about 3,100 of the tribe’s 5,600 enrolled members, according to the tribe. Rosette said the Chippewa Cree is the poorest tribe in the state, and this emergency is bleeding its resources quickly.
“The tribe is not in a very good financial position to handle that,” he said. “It’s getting to a critical point financially for the tribe.”
Montana Disaster and Emergency Services spokeswoman Monique Lay said a state team has been sent to help with an initial assessment of the damage, but it has had a hard time maneuvering on the ground.
“They’re still in the middle of the disaster,” Lay said. “We can’t really get in there and assess the damage until some of that water recedes.”
She could not confirm how many people were without water or how many homes have been evacuated. She said the tribe has requested bottled water and resources for a temporary health clinic.
Shelters have been established, but were not being used, Lay said. Evacuees who were not staying in the hotel in Havre were staying with family and friends.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer was to head to the reservation on Wednesday. The governor plans to help the tribe by appealing directly to federal emergency officials for assistance, Lay said.
Tags: Agency Dam, Box Elder, buffalo post, Chippewa Cree Tribe, flooding, Gwen Florio, Jake Parker, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services, Native American news, Rocky Boy's Reservation, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs