FLOODING TIMELINE

Thursday, June 16, 2022
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Deborah Drain's home was lost to the Stillwater River earlier this week. Photo by Larry Simpson.

This timeline is built on calls for service from the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office Dispatch center.

SUNDAY – JUNE 12

•5:29 P.M.: The Cove Ditch along Highway 10 between Columbus and Park City is reported washed out and running over the road. Montana Department of Transportation was advised. Per a deputy’s request, Montana Rail Link was advised of “water against their tracks.” At 7:24 a.m., the highway was blocked off from Oak Creations just outside Columbus to Young’s Point. Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) was advised at 8:17 a.m. and contacted the county Road & Bridge Department. Commissioner Steve Riveland was also advised. CODE RED sent out by DES and the PIO. Highway reopened at 8:39 p.m. DES advised.

•8:38 A.M.: Columbus Police officer reported the lower part of Itch-Kep-Pe Park was starting to flood. Each camp spot was notified to “pack up and move out.” Barricades were brought to the park in the event it needed to be “officially shut down.” At 12:57 p.m., the lower part of the park was closed with barriers in place.

•12:46 P.M.: The Smith Bridge west of the baseball field in Absarokee was reportedly “wash out.” The caller stated it is an unused bridge, but wanted to report it anyway. The Road & Bridge Department was advised.

•6:27 P.M.: NorthWestern Energy reported two bridges below the Mystic Lake Power Plant were washed out. The Road and Bridge Department was advised.

•8:32 P.M.: A caller reported the bridge just past Rockin J on Nye Road was almost flooded due to one bridge being filled by debris and causing water towards the second bridge. A deputy responded and DES was advised.

MONDAY – JUNE 13

•2:37 A.M.: A 911 caller reported on Riverside Drive in Columbus reported water coming in and around a camper and a cabin. A deputy responded and notified residents of rising water levels. By 10:43 a.m., “100 percent of Dolan/ Riverside” was under water. DES was advised twice and requested a self-evacuation.

•3:25 A.M.: A Stillwater River Road resident requested assistance from a deputy in evacuating as water was getting very close to his home and he was unsure if he could drive out of it.

•4:13 A.M.: A 911 call from North Stillwater River Road regarding elderly people who could not get out of their home prompted Search and Rescue (SAR) and deputies to assemble, as well as Absarokee fire. At that point, Johnson Bridge was passable, but there was water on North Stillwater Road. The MDOT was advised. But 5:25 a.m., everyone was out.

•4:31 A.M.: Midnight Canyon Road is reportedly flooded with water running over the Dark Canyon Bridge. A deputy reported that water was almost over the bridge and Stillwater River Road, with other roads being impassable. One house on Dark Canyon Drive across the river may be stranded.

•4:46 A.M.: A house on North Stillwater Road was completely surrounded by water and needed to be checked. “All houses there need to be checked.”

•5:29 A.M.: A 911 caller reported the pavement was being washed away from “right before the mine” and needed to be assessed for possible mine evacuation. There were also power lines down and arcing. A deputy arrived to find one lane gone and the second almost washed out. With the permission of a private landowner, vehicles were driven on land and around the washed out road.

•5:36 A.M.: A 911 caller in Nye advised two people were trapped in a house with 3-feet of water.

•6:21 A.M.: Woodbine Campground begins evacuations with assistance from the U.S. Forest Service from Big Timber. 100 to 150 people were at the Sibanye-Stillwater mine site with busses halted. A deputy requested a wrecker to get a truck past the mine, which was not possible due to the condition of the road. MHP was also advised.

•6:25 A.M.: A 911 caller reported needing assistance out of her home in Absarokee due to water in the house. Absarokee emergency crews responded.

•6:30 A.M.: Shipps Meadow Valley Home is evacuated with eight residents being taken to other hospitals.

•6:54 A.M.: Per DES, Fish, Wildlife & Parks was advised to evacuate campgrounds.

•7:05 A.M.: The main bridge behind the Rocking J in the Absarokee area was reportedly washing out.

•7:14 A.M.: A resident on Spreading Winge Lane in Nye called needing help getting out of his home, which was in 5-feet deep water. Nye Fire was paged.

•7:19 A.M.: SAR is paged out for the Woodbine Campground evacuation.

•7:36 A.M.: The first resident called requesting information about sand bags.

•7:44 A.M.: A deputy reported actively flowing water that was getting deeper on Lover’s Lane in Absarokee.

•8:28 A.M.: A deputy reported water “coming in pretty good” on Nye Road.

•9:17 A.M.: Absarokee fire reported that the Rosebud Bridge “may be giving out” and requested a CODE RED for the Circle T Subdivision to be evacuated. There were also people blocking the bridge who would not leave, despite being told to do so by a game warden and Absarokee emergency crews. A deputy was advised.

•9:34 A.M.: A Beaver Flat Trail resident in Absarokee reported that the river “took part of his house down the river.” The sheriff was advised.

•9:52 A.M.: Nearly all campers and residents voluntarily evacuated the Beehive and Cliff Swallows areas.

•9:56 A.M.: HAZMAT incident occurred involving a 40-pound propane tank “blowing gas” that went into the river at the Whitebird Fishing Access and was accessible by emergency crews.

•10:05 A.M.: DOT workers reported people refusing to move from the Stillwater River Road area and blocking where they needed to be working. A deputy was advised.

•10:14 A.M.: A deputy advised that there was too much water on Nye Road to transport people to the Nye Fire Hall, as was planned. People were instead taken to the mine.

•10:49 A.M.: A cabin was reportedly “floating down the river towards a bridge” at the Old Nye Campground. The area was immediately evacuated.

•10:50 A.M.: Fireman’s Point was deemed impassable.

•11:01 A.M.: Dolan Lane and Riverside Drive were “90 percent under water.” Two residents stayed. All fishing accesses were checked and cleared. No homes were in immediate danger in the Lower Hawk Valley area and livestock had been moved to higher ground. Five structures on Meyers Road were either surrounded by water or had water in them.

•11:05 A.M.: 911 caller reported the Riddle’s Cliff Bridge “was completely gone.”

•11:28 A.M.: Stillwater River Road is shut down due to 3 to 4-feet of water coming over the road.

•11:54 A.M.: Spring Creek Bridge had 18-inches of water flowing over it.

•12:10 P.M.: Reports received of Johnson Bridge and the Absaroka Fishing access being “completely impassable.”

•12:21 P.M.: DOT shuts down Nye Road at mile marker 19. Phones were reportedly down at the Sibanye-Stillwater Nye mine site and the mine began self-evacuating.

•1:48 P.M.: A deputy reported the road behind Rockin J and the Rosebud had washed out.

•2:08 P.M.: NorthWestern Energy reported a downed power line at Cliff’s Swallow campground.

•2:16 P.M.: Two Bear Air flew a woman who was stranded in Midnight Canyon Road in Nye to Absarokee, where HelpFlight then transported her to a hospital.

•4:23 P.M.: An exposed pipe was reported on North Stillwater Road. NorthWestern Energy responded.

•4:45 P.M.: A deputy reported an eroded culvert on Nye Road.

•6:17 P.M.: Sibayne-Stillwater mine in Nye loses all communications and is able to communicate only by radio.

•6:57 P.M.: A woman on Lower Flat Road requested help in getting two horses out of water.

•7:21 P.M.: Power lines near Riddle’s Cliff in Nye were in the tree sands parking. Beartooth Electric was advised.

•8:20 P.M.: Mystic Lake Damnreported water was “currently running downstream at 800 cfs and expected that to rise to 2,800 cfs between midnight and 7 a.m. Two campers were left at Emerald campground. •8:22 P.M.: Two Bear Air flew into a home on Rainbow Ranch Road in Nye to check on a resident who was not responding to a caregiver. The man was fine and stayed put.

•8:42 P.M.: Road cones were stationed on Countryman Creek Road near Highway 78.

•8:49 P.M.: A deputy reported the West Rosebud Road was washed out.

•9:32 P.M.: The city water system at Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus was checked on and determined to not be in danger.

•10:53 P.M.: Sibanye-Stillwater mine site in Nye made arrangements to be in touch with dispatch every three hours through the Absarokee Repeater.

TUESDAY – JUNE 14

•8:28 A.M.: Seven people at a cabin at the Phantom Trailhead in the East Rosebud Lake area reported being almost out of food and water and stranded due to the road being gone. Carbon County officials were advised.

•8:50 A.M.: Water on the south side of the Yellowstone bridge in Reed Point was reported, about 20 yards away from the railroad tracks.

•9:41 A.M.: Water was around a cabin on Slims Lane in Absarokee.

•10:53 A.M.: About 20 head of cattle were in a field surrounded by water off East Frontage Road in Reed Point. A deputy also advised the owner of the cattle to evacuate, as floodwater was “taking out the corner” of the man’s driveway. The resident did not leave.

•11:47 A.M.: Water was running underneath the railroad tracks next to the Reed Point fire hall. A deputy and DES responded as panic began to set in the community.

•11:57 A.M.: Montana Silversmiths shut its doors at noon after law enforcement explained the flooding potential.

•11:58 A.M.: The sheriff ’s office requested police conduct a door-to-door check along the river on Clough and First Avenue as floodwater was “coming and its coming quick.”

•4:50 P.M.: Cots from the American Red Cross were brought to the fairgrounds pavilion in Columbus.

•5:56 P.M.: People were removed from Itch-Kep-Pe Park, which had been closed.