The Lewis and Clark County Disaster and Emergency Services Division has applied for a $75,000 Advanced Assistance Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in response to the two Elk Creek flood events in Augusta in 2018 and 2019.
Elk Creek presents a dilemma because there have been no hydrological or hydraulics studies done on it and we truly don’t know why it has started to present the problems it has. While this grant cannot be used for “dirt moving,” it can be used to create mitigation plans or conduct studies. If Lewis and Clark County is awarded the grant, it will be used to conduct a Hydraulics and Hydrological (H & H) study on an approximate three-mile length of Elk Creek from Augusta Clemens Road to just east of Augusta on Highway 21.
These studies are expensive; fortunately, there is already LIDAR data available through the Montana Department of Transportation when they flew the area in 2018 for bridgework. They covered a wider area than actually needed, but for their purposes, didn’t have to process it all. Because it’s State data, the County can use it, but we have to pay to have it processed. That is where this grant would come in.
The goal is to hire an engineering firm to take the MDT LIDAR data, translate it to a map and conduct additional ground surveys to provide a complete study. The ground surveys, called terrestrial surveys, need to be done to provide a more complete picture. To better understand why, think of a paper towel roll sitting on the floor. Looking down on it from above, it might look like a flat, solid piece, perhaps with curvature to the top. Unless you change your view, you’d never know it’s hollow. The terrestrial survey will identify the “hollows” and add them to the surface the model will be built on.
Once the model is functional, it will be public information. It can then be used to identify projects that will help alleviate flooding in Augusta. It can be used to predict what and where flooding will occur and more importantly, used to validate project effectiveness and to permit projects. Landowners will be able to use it for the same purpose.
To assist with potential projects identified through the study, the County will likely apply for additional FEMA grants.
The County is awaiting official notification of award.