Flathead officials have positive early outlook for flooding season


KALISPELL, Mont. - According to Flathead County Emergency Services, the early snow melt has started.

In Smith Valley, the school district has concerns. Two years ago the district's old school building was swamped with water. Eight feet filled the school basement.

"I couldn't believe it," said Laili Komenda. Pointing to the top of a staircase, the school's superintendent described the what she saw. "I opened that door and turned on the lights and I was like, what?"

This year, Komenda is watching carefully. She hopes to avoid another basement flood.

NBC Montana confirmed other water problems. Most of them are scattered across the valley. The problems are caused by a "ponding" of surface water. When the water gets too deep, it pours through basement windows and cracks in basement walls. The damage can be costly. The Smith Valley School District says damage to the old school building amounted to thousands of dollars.

The Emergency Services Manager for Flathead County knows the problems all too well. Lincoln Chute has seen it all before. This year, he's optimistic.

"We're seeing a little ponding, but not as much as a lot of years," Chute said. "We had snow on the ground before we had the real cold temperatures so there's not much frost on the ground. There's a place for the snow actually to percolate into the ground. So I think that's really good."

It's good news for Komenda too. "We could try to salvage some of it but using it for a school is not effective anymore." The former school house is now a storage building.

Chute says now is the time homeowners to be aware. He encourages them to check sump pump, make sure they're clear, the pump is plugged in and running properly.