On Tuesday, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and officials from the Missoula Rural Fire District went door to door along Highway 12, visiting with residents to alert them to the flood danger created by the Lolo Creek Complex fire of 2013. Experts say steep, charred landscapes may not be able to handle intense bursts of rain and runoff.
"What we've seen happen is we get thunderstorms in the summer with high-intensity, short-duration rains. It doesn't have to be a lot of rain, about a quarter of an inch, a half an inch of rain. We get these large debris flows bringing boulders and trees and lots of water with it," said Ray Nickless of the National Weather Service.
Officials say the areas dealing with the highest risk are homes at the base of Anderson, Westerman and Chickaman gulches, as well as along Camp Creek Road and south of Highway 12 near Bear Creek. However, emergency officials want all residents living along the Highway 12 corridor to stay aware.
"Most of those people have been there for some time and recognize the danger and recognize the potential. But having the experts and scientists there with the NOAA talk to them about what the specific hazards are and how quickly that can come up on them, I think, was very beneficial," said David Conway of the Missoula County Sheriff's Office.
Officials are spreading safety tips, like packing a quick-exit emergency bag, arranging for the transfer of livestock and creating a Smart 911 profile.
Smart 911 provides emergency responders with extra information about yourlf and your home.