Manhattan city leaders, emergency personnel assess flood damage


MANHATTAN, Mont. - Emergency crews jumped in to help clear flood water in Manhattan on Friday. As of 8:30 p.m., Main Street was clear, but water continues to flood business basements. "It was such a surprise, so much water, so fast," said Manhattan Mayor Dave Rowell. He explained flooding like this hasn't happened in town in more than 60 years. "It took us some time to evaluate what do we need to do," he said. "It's not like you just shut off a valve and it's going to stop." They called Emergency Management crews in on Friday to help with flood cleanup. "We're in an operational role trying to support the town of Manhattan, making sure they get the resources they need," said Gallatin County Emergency Management Director Patrick Lonergan. Crews worked all day long. NBC Montana was told nine large water pumps diverted about 14,000 gallons of water per minute out of Manhattan's Main Street, but it took all day just to get the street clear. As the flood waters started to recede, county officials and city leaders are now asking the question -- what happens next? "Once we get the water pumped out, we'll be able to get in there and really assess exactly what the damage is," Lonergan said. Lonergan explained businesses could get financial help from the government and insurance companies. "It is very likely the governor will do a declaration and we may get some federal assistance, which will open up programs," Lonergan explained. "The State of Montana also has some internal programs that assist individuals." As for the city, Rowell said he's hoping businesses can bounce back, explaining, "My biggest concern is that these businesses on Main Street can survive." He said they will look at how they can be better prepared for situations like this in the future. "One thing we'll have to look at as community leaders is try to do some planning," Rowell said. "Even though it might have been 60, 70 years since this has happened, if it happens again next year, what could we do?" The city of Manhattan will host a meeting Monday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at Manhattan City Hall. Emergency Management personnel and city leaders will be there to learn what damages community members received during the flooding, and to educate residents on what programs will be available to assist them. The meeting will also help Emergency Management learn what state and federal programs the town will be eligible for. Anyone affected by the flooding in Manhattan is encouraged to attend.