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Storm damage clean-up continues in Monarch and Neihart

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monarch stanford belt
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 17, 2024

GREAT FALLS — The buzz of chainsaws echoes along Highway 89 near Monarch as the community grapples with the aftermath of a devastating storm that hit the area last week.

The storm wreaked havoc, toppling thousands of trees and causing significant flooding.

According to Cascade County Director of Emergency Management Joey Zahara, the region was hit by a powerful snowstorm accompanied by high winds, affecting several counties.

"I believe the epicenter was between Monarch and Neihart. The storm brought four feet of wet, heavy snow in just a few hours, crippling the power infrastructure. Monarch and Neihart were without power for 72 hours. Trees landed on houses, blocked roads, and created widespread chaos," Zahara explained.



NorthWestern Energy quickly mobilized numerous crews for mutual aid, working tirelessly to restore the power infrastructure. Although the water levels in the creeks are now receding, some areas may still experience low-level flooding and ponding. Monitoring efforts are ongoing.

While the county is not responsible for cleanup on private property, a new program has been created to assist property owners in managing their cleanup efforts.

"Trees are down everywhere," Zahara noted. "We'll be driving by with a dump trailer to collect debris and transport it to our debris site. We're forming a small task force with volunteers from the community who are willing to help their neighbors."

There is significant concern that the downed trees could become fuel for fires as the season progresses. The county is therefore putting a lot of effort into the cleanup to mitigate this risk.

Zahara emphasized the importance of safety during the cleanup. "We just want the community to be cautious and very careful. When they're cleaning up, they're on their own lands," he said.

To support these efforts, a briefing for volunteers will be held on Saturday, May 18th, at 9 a.m. at the Monarch Fire Station. Community members are encouraged to come by and assist in the ongoing cleanup efforts.