Area wildfires may increase your flood risk

Burned soil can be as water repellant as pavement. Rainfall that would normally be absorbed by soil may run off extremely quickly after a wildfire. These conditions, along with wet weather, can lead to flash flooding and mudflow for several seasons. The time to get prepared is now: 

  • Homeowners insurance usually does not cover damage from flood or mudflow
  • Flash flood or mudflow from wildfire can occur anywhere, not just in high-risk flood areas
  • Anyone can purchase flood insurance, not just those in high-risk flood areas

Montana DES website 

Montana State DES Staff

2018 State of Montana Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

During a flood event, county Disaster and Emergency Services coordinators should be coordinating with your community’s first responders—typically your fire and sheriff/police departments. Find out who the DES coordinator is for your county. 

If you have a question, please first contact your County or Tribal DES Coordinator. For incidents and emergencies in which the DES Coordinator is not available or otherwise unreachable, you may contact the State DES Duty Officer at 406-324-4777 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year). 

If emergency or repair work is being done in or near a regulatory floodplain, it will likely require a Conservation District 310 Permit and/or a Floodplain Permit. Anyone considering doing emergency or repair work in or near the regulatory floodplain (or in a stream or tributary) should contact the community's Floodplain Administrator first to obtain the proper permits.

Coordinating with DNRC and your Conservation District during an emergency can help avoid potential permitting issues that may arise after the emergency or repair work is completed and the flood event has passed. 

If any structures in your community are damaged from flooding, the structure owner(s) will need to document the flood damage, including flood fighting costs, what flood insurance will pay them, and what they will have to pay out of pocket. If a structure has suffered flood damage, structure owners should make a flood claim as soon as possible.

Use the following methods to document flood events and/or flood damage:
Photos—Label with location, stream names, time, date, event, and photographer name.
Videos— Label with location, stream names, time, date, event, and photographer name.
High water marks—Mark any structures that have defined water marks on them with indelible ink or a nail. Record these locations with notes and photographs. 

DNRC keeps an archive of flood photos/video for informational purposes. If you are willing, please pass any photo/video documentation of flooding to Traci Sears, 406-444-6654. Finally, be mindful that no photo or video is worth risking your life--use caution when documenting floods or flood damage.