Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Trumble Creek floods more than a dozen homes, structures; Garnier Creek damages North Hilltop Road

| June 15, 2022 7:20 AM


A flooded home along Highway 2 just north of the Blue Moon after Trumble Creek spilled over its banks.


A culvert plugged, flooding and damaging North Hilltop Road . There was concern the culvert could fail entirely, sending a wall of water downstream.


Hungry Horse News

More than a dozen homes and structures were flooded June 15 along Highway 2 just outside Columbia Falls city limits as Trumbull Creek spilled over its banks overnight.

While the creek has flooded several times in the past decades, it was the worst flooding people had seen, as heavy rain fell at lower elevations and soggy snow fell in the high terrain.

“I have lived here since 1970 and this is the highest flood I’ve ever seen. The flooding started at around 10:30 and it came pretty fast. The whole basement flooded and I had to shut the water to the house off. For now we have to carry all our water in,” said longtime resident Neil Lewis as he cleaned up.

The water reached the lower floor of homes in the neighborhood just north of the Blue Moon.

“Besides the workshop, the damage wasn’t too bad. The crawlspace below the house is still full of water. Fortunately, we knew the flood was coming so we had time to prepare. We also had to shut the septic off, so we’ve been using the trailer,” resident Richard Peacock said.

“We didn’t get it too bad, the house here is built on slab so we’re higher up. The garage was flooded, I’ll have to give my neighbor back his firewood that floated into my yard,” George Gockman said.

At one point, the runoff ran all the way to the Blue Moon intersection and was flooding a lane on the opposite side of the highway.

The Bad Rock Canyon also saw flooding in the eastbound lane — not from the river, but from water flowing off Columbia Mountain.

The water fell almost as quickly as it rose.

By June 17, Trumbull Creek had receded.

In addition, North Hilltop Road was damaged after Garnier Creek plugged a culvert, sending water rushing over the road.

Flathead County temporarily repaired the road with a new culvert, which remains closed to traffic as of presstime.

Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty said they hoped to start work on the road this week, but additional rain that fell over the weekend and then Sunday in Monday made it even more soggy. He said there’s simply some unknowns at this point.

“It will take us a couple of weeks most likely depending on what we find for material under the road.  Just won’t know until we can open it up and see how much moisture is in the subgrade,” Prunty said in email to the Hungry Horse News.

There was other flooding in lower portions of the valley, but the Flathead River never rose above minor flood stage. In Columbia Falls, River’s Edge Park was inundated with water near the river, for example.

Since about June 10, Glacier Park International Airport has recorded 4.5 inches of rain, but more has fallen in terrain upstream.

At Hungry Horse, there was 6.25 inches of rain and one station in West Glacier recorded 6.75 inches of rain from June 10 through June 21, which included more than an inch of rain just Sunday into Monday.

Glacier National Park saw high water, but no major flooding at lower elevations. Backcountry travelers however, should expect water in trails and high streams. Larger streams are not fordable. There is also fresh snow in the higher terrain.

Park road crews are expected to survey snow conditions and any damage the Going-to-the-Sun Road may have received during the storms in the next few days.

Heavy snow fell last week in the high country. At Noisy Basin in the Jewel Basin, 41 inches of snow fell. But then it warmed up into the 70s and 80s and the snow was melting fast.

The mainstem Flathead River is expected to level off in the next few days, but is projected to remain in minor flood stage until June 26 or 27, National Weather Service meteorologist Luke Robinson said Tuesday. As of presstime, the Middle Fork of the Flathead was nearing minor flood stage as well.

On Monday night, the Columbia Falls city council, in alignment with the county and state, declared a natural disaster.

That could reap the city some federal dollars for repairs to River’s Edge Park in the future. Every year, even without a flood, the river washes away more and more of the park.

This year it was particularly bad.

This story was updated from its original version.