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Montana ARES Group Activated in Advance of Anticipated Flooding


[UPDATED 2018-05-26 @ 2320 UTC]The Billings, Montana, Director of Emergency Services has activated the Yellowstone County Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) group (YARES) to support radio communication for sand bagging stations and for possible river-level spotters over the next 5 days. The call came in advance of an anticipated significant flood event — “possibly the largest ever recorded,” Yellowstone County ARES Emergency Coordinator Ron Glass, WN7Y, told ARRL.

The call from County DES Brad Shoemaker came last evening, Glass told his team of volunteers, stressing, “This is not a drill.” Glass said the request from the County called for staffing five sandbag centers from 9 AM until 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday, “helping to coordinate logistics and supplies to get tens of thousands of sandbags into the hands of citizens and communities to prepare for the historic flooding to hit the area.” Glass said that, with the exception of supporting a bicycle race 5 years ago, YARES has never been activated for an extended event. As of Saturday evening, Glass told ARRL, 15 YARES volunteers were on duty, with ARES members serving as the only official at each of the sand bagging centers. “Every hour, we poll the five stations from the ham station set up in the EOC to see if the sandbag centers need more sand or more bags,” he said.

The flooding is expected to strike on Memorial Day and continue through Wednesday, May 30. ARES resources may be shifted to serve as river-level-Spotters along the Yellowstone River and its tributaries.

Glass said YARES held a short net to sign up volunteers for the initial shifts and to coordinate plans to meet at the county emergency operations center (EOC) before dispersing to duty stations.

“This is what we train and practice for every year, so let’s go help our community in this time of crisis,” Glass told his volunteer team. YARES is sponsored by the Yellowstone Radio Club.

Forecasters are saying the Yellowstone and Clark Fork rivers both are expected to reach record levels over the next few days as a result of snow melt and rainfall. The potential for heavy rainfall over the weekend, especially in the Billings area, and it could cause flooding in parts of the city that have never seen flood waters from the Yellowstone River.







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