Floodwaters race through Montana city and leave damage behind

·2 min read
Floodwaters race through Montana city and leave damage behind

Dramatic footage from Helena, Montana, showed roaring floodwaters overwhelming streets in the city on July 3.

A storm began to sweep through Helena on Sunday evening, bringing fierce wind gusts and significant flooding with it. Video acquired by Storyful and shot by passerby Andy Shirtliff showed water up to the wheel well of vehicles as they drove through downtown Helena.

The water made its way into some buildings downtown, including The Lewis and Clark Library. Maintenance teams worked quickly to remove the water from the location, according to KTVH. The exact damages caused by the flood to the library and its collection are still being assessed.

Flooding in downtown Helena, Montana, on July 3, 2022. (Andy Shirtliff via Storyful).

Floodwaters also filled the lobby of the Helena Cinemark movie theater, forcing an evacuation of the building. In addition to the movie theater and library, the YWCA Helena suffered damage to its property due to the flooding, according to Montana Right Now.

Helen Regional Airport first reported rain and a thunderstorm squall at 6:42 p.m. local time. In just 10 minutes, about 0.7 of an inch of rainfall was reported at the airport. The rain continued until about 8 p.m. Sunday night.

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The National Weather Service reported over 1 inch of rain in several parts of Helena between 6 and 7 p.m. that night. An area about 2 miles southeast of Helena even reported quarter-inch hail during the severe weather event.

Floodwater pressing against a door in Helena, Montana, on July 3, 2022. (Andy Shirtliff via Storyful).

The rising water wasn't the only concern for the area. Strong wind gusts downed trees and scattered limbs across roadways throughout downtown. KTVH reported one tree fell through a bus stop at the Great Northern Center.

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins said city officials are continuing to pay close attention to the flooding situation and have shut down some main streets in Helena.

"I'm advising everyone in the Helena area right now, to proceed with caution as we begin celebrating the 4th," Collins said in a Twitter post.

Dangerous storms affected much of the state throughout the day on Sunday, bringing powerful wind and rain. A wind gust of nearly 80 mph was reported about 200 miles northeast of Helena near Sand Springs, Montana, on Sunday afternoon. Farther to the west in Baker, Montana, over 2 inches of rain fell, and in the small town of Rapelje, Montana, near Billings, multiple 1.75-inch hail reports were received.

These dangerous floods occurred less than one month after an unprecedented amount of rainfall brought flooding to Yellowstone National Park, which is located about 150 miles southeast of Helena. Entrances to Yellowstone remained closed for days, with the north loop not reopening until July 2.

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