HELENA – Montana has had its share of natural disasters from floods, severe winter storms and wildfires that resulted in the Federal Emergency Management Agency providing about $73.8 million in financial assistance since 1998.
An analysis by the Associated Press found that FEMA approved 241 funding requests from Montana over that period and denied money for just three that had gone through an appeals process with the agency.
All three of the denied appeals stemmed from massive flooding that occurred in the spring and early summer of 2011, when heavy rain fell on rivers already swollen with snowmelt. The Missouri and Yellowstone rivers were among those that flooded.
Roundup was among several towns with large areas inundated. The spillway at the Fort Peck Reservoir in northeast Montana was open for a record 121 straight days because of all the water from around the state that flowed into the Missouri River.
FEMA ended up paying out some $42 million in compensation sought by 120 entities to help the state recover from the disaster.
However, a request by the state to pay for repairs at an irrigation district at Lockwood in Yellowstone County was denied because FEMA said the proper permits weren’t obtained. FEMA also denied a request by Cascade County for road repair work because it said the area had problems before flooding. And the agency denied a short line railroad’s request to help pay for a damaged trestle because it was not a private nonprofit utility and not an “essential governmental service facility.”
Among other Montana disasters, heavy rain in 2010 caused widespread flooding in north-central Montana around the Bear Paw Mountains, leading to about $12.7 million in FEMA assistance, and a winter storm in the spring of 2008 that resulted in $3.37 million in FEMA aid.
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