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Orchard Homes Area in Danger of Flooding Similar to 2011 [AUDIO]

2011 Flood
photo courtesy of Missoula County

2011 was a devastating year for flooding in western Montana, but one county official says the spring of 2014 has the potential to surpass it.

Missoula County Floodplain Administrator Todd Klietz said that, as of Saturday, March 22, the snowpack in the Missoula area is well over 100% of normal.

The snowpack up in the Clark Fork River basin is about 150 percent of normal, while the Bitterroot is at 175 percent. ” Klietz said. “The potential for flooding is there, it just depends on how Mother Nature brings it down. The 2011 flood was only a 10-year flood event. The perfect storm would be what happened back in 1908 when we had a 100 -year flood event, and that was when we had 30 days of solid rain in May.”

Klietz was on hand to view the practice burn conducted Saturday by the Missoula Rural Fire Department of a home in the Orchard Homes area that had been severely damaged by the 2011 floods. He said the entire neighborhood was actually once in the middle of the Clark Fork River.

“The neighborhood we’re in now was platted back in the early 1800’s, and there were multiple channels of the Clark Fork River, and this area was actually built on a gravel bar between channels of the river, so that’s why it floods,” Klietz said. “The entire Clark Fork River Basin floodplain is constrained upstream of here by the Orchard Homes levee that was built after the floods of 1948. This area here is downstream and actually on the river side of the levee, and so this area, this entire neighborhood we’re in, isn’t protected. That’s down to Third Street, down to Kelly Island, the area on the south side of the river, most of that is floodplain.”

Klietz emphasized that the weather patterns in April, May and June will determine the extent of flooding, if any, in the Orchard Homes area.

“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Klietz said. “It’s all up to Mother Nature.”

Missoula County Floodplain Administrator Todd Klietz

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