Livingston residents battle high water


LIVINGSTON, Mont. - Livingston city workers fought flood waters through Thursday night.

Evacuees were allowed to return home in Livingston Thursday afternoon. Areas like Park Street at 12th and North 7th were under a foot of water.

Crews have been on the scene with backhoes and earth movers since Wednesday night, trying to keep irrigation ditches clear for runoff.

Residents filled sandbags at the Park County Fairgrounds to create a defense around their property.

Mark Carstensen said his family, "Filled about 30 already this morning and we're trying to just prepare for some more. There's kind of a shortage for sand ready in bags so we're doing it the hard way."

Just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, condo resident Jackie Heilman and her boyfriend received the order to evacuate.

"It was very scary," said Heilman. "We were in the house relaxing, having dinner and all of a sudden they were knocking on doors, telling us to evacuate."

Heilman said she had just moments.

"We've never dealt with anything like that and just, you know, did the best we could, got our things, got a couple bags together, and got out," she revealed.

Jim Harper manages Peak View Condo Estates in Livingston.

He told NBC Montana, "The water was actually cascading from the washout. The ditch broke loose out there from the flooding."

Harper had been evacuated and knows too well what crews are worried about.

"They're afraid of sinkholes, stuff like that, washing these things away," he told us.

The city declared a state of emergency so it can access government money, and take additional steps to protect people.

Crews are working around the clock to get the situation under control. And all people like Jackie Heilman can do is stand by, wait and watch.

She says, "Right now we're just kind of waiting and hoping for the best."