Floods: FEMA Administrator & Top Montana Officials in Red Lodge
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was in Red Lodge, Montana Thursday, just hours after President Biden signed an emergency disaster declaration due to the flooding across Southcentral and Southwestern Montana. (Photos and video are below)
Montana's Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras (R-MT) touted the quick action by the State of Montana and Montana's Congressional Delegation with the request. She also praised the Biden Administration for what she believes may be one of the fastest approvals she has ever seen when it comes to a disaster declaration.
Lt. Governor Juras: We immediately began working with the assistance of our Division of Emergency Services, putting together presidential declaration requests. Of course the governor issued a declaration on Monday, and that laid the path. We reached out to FEMA, they were instrumental in helping us turn it around so quickly. But it is so important, and we are so grateful for President Biden and the FEMA team for getting that processed so quickly. I think it's one of the quickest declarations to have been issued, at least in my knowledge, in Montana.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell says she was inspired by seeing neighbors helping neighbors, and the resiliency demonstrated by the citizens and first responders in Carbon County.
Montana Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) was also on hand for the visit along with the FEMA Administrator. One thing he stressed was the need to get these communities back up and running as soon as possible, especially the access into Yellowstone National Park.
Senator Daines: Devastating as it was with those floods, what could be even more devastating economically will be if we shut down the tourism season in places like Red Lodge, like Gardiner, like West Yellowstone, like Cooke City.These gateway communities,their profitable months are basically a 90 day window that we're turning the corner on right now as we speak...we'll be looking at all the options. We have to make sure we've got the tourism economy coming back because we got a lot of businesses and families depend on that to happen in the next 90 days.
Senator Daines says he will travel to Gardiner on Friday. He will also meet with Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly, Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT), and Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
FEMA Administrator Criswell: One of the things that we have authorized in our disaster declaration is emergency protective measures. That means that they can take immediate steps to do some emergency work to clear things while they're working through what it's going to take to permanently repair. We saw that today going through the community here in Red Lodge where they've done some temporary work, emergency work, to kind of fortify these bridges and these shores. But it'll take some permanent work going on. Same thing in any of the other parts. We want to just do whatever we can as quickly as possible as far as the state and local level, and those are the types of costs that are reimbursable by FEMA.
What stood out most to the FEMA Administrator? Full audio below:
As for what Red Lodge looks like as they continue to recover from the flood. What a difference 48 hours can make. Montana's Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras (R-MT) was in Red Lodge two days ago, and she says she can already see the difference. Full audio with Lt. Gov. Juras:
Lt. Gov. Juras also tells us that Governor Greg Gianforte will be back in Montana tonight, and has been on constant contact with state agencies since day one. The Governor and the First Lady were on a pre-scheduled vacation out of the country before the flooding emergency began.