Montana officials ask Buttigieg for quick assistance
Montana's top elected officials on Friday began to survey the damage caused by extensive flooding in regions of the state and are urging federal officials to provide funding to assist in what's expected to be a prolonged recovery.
Gov. Greg Gianforte joined Sen. Steve Daines in Gardiner on Friday. Sen. Jon Tester visited Red Lodge and later joined FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell in Billings and Livingston.
“These communities have been hit hard by this disaster, and we need to make sure we get them the resources they need to rebuild and recover as soon as humanly possible,” Tester said in a Friday statement.
During Friday's tour, Tester and Criswell visited a treatment plant in Billings, which was closed earlier this week due to flooding on the Yellowstone River.
President Joe Biden approved the state's request for a disaster declaration on Thursday, one day after the request was submitted. Gianforte thanked the president for his quick reply tweeting, “One behalf of all Montanans, I thank POTUS for his swift approval of our request.”
“We have secured a presidential major disaster declaration for Montana to help communities respond, recover and rebuild,” Gianforte said. “The state will continue bringing its resources to bear to support communities impacted by flooding.”
At the request of the state Department of Disaster and Emergency Services, Missoula County this week also assembled and deployed an incident team to Carbon County to assist with its response and recovery to flooding.
Tester said Red Lodge suffered “significant damage.”
“I’m working closely with FEMA, the National Park Service, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies to make sure the response to this tragedy is swift and efficient, and I appreciate the work of our first responders in keeping folks safe,” he said.
In their letter to Biden, the state's congressional delegation detailed aspects of the flood and the “catastrophic damage to critical infrastructure” suffered in some communities. They also said the “impact of this flooding will continue to have a profound impact on the region's economy for some time.”
With the federal disaster declaration now in place, the delegation on Friday sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Highway Administration's top administrator seeking swift assistance.
“While the full extent of the damage is still unknown, it is imperative that we immediately begin directing sufficient federal resources to the affected communities to provide crucial early support for their recovery efforts as they rebuild infrastructure that residents and businesses rely upon,” they wrote.