More than 100 homes were severely damaged or destroyed by historic floods last week – Daily Montanan

More than 100 homes in Carbon, Steelwater and Park counties were damaged or destroyed by historic and devastating floods last week, according to a letter from the governor’s office Thursday.

The letter is a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking it to activate the Individual Assistance Program, which provides funds and services to those in need after a disaster.

“I have determined that this incident is of such seriousness and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of state and local governments…Supplementary federal assistance is necessary to increase the efforts and resources available to state and local governments,” Greg Gianforte wrote in the letter to Nancy Dragani, FEMA VIII Regional Director. .

The order includes activation of all programs under the Individual Assistance Program, including Individuals and Families, Other Needs Assistance, Disaster Management, Crisis Advice and Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, Unemployment Insurance, Critical Needs Assistance, and Cleaning Assistance and removal – all of which are not currently authorized under the June 16 Presidential Declaration on Major Disasters.

The state’s damage surveys estimate that 115 major residences — 23 in Carbon County, 53 in Park County and 39 in Stillwater County — have sustained significant damage, destruction or have been completely razed, according to the letter.

Compounding the problem is the affordability of housing in the provinces.

According to the letter, the mortgage cost in Park County is approximately 37.7% of household income and 33.8% in Carbon County. The average in Montana is 28.8% and the national average is 27.2%. For Park County renters, the cost of rent is approximately 33.8% of household income; For Carbon County, it’s 33.6%, and for Stillwater it’s 30.8%.

“The communities around the affected areas are currently in the early months of their tourist seasons. There are very few available rentals and fewer affordable rentals.” “Due to the effects of COVID-19 on the housing market, and the marked increase in inflation over the past year, rental rates and home prices have increased significantly without a proportional increase in the fixed income of those affected.”

Mobile homes were also severely affected, according to the letter. There are 686 mobile homes in the high flood risk census trails in affected counties — 441 in Park County, 98 in Stillwater County, and 147 in Carbon County.

“Mobile home residents have been shown to be disproportionately affected by disasters—due to the home’s physical characteristics, location, residents’ social vulnerabilities, and complex property arrangements, which means they can be excluded from some forms of legal protections (such as eviction notices),” the letter reads.

According to the letter, many homeowners in the affected counties were at risk of lacking insurance or having no flood insurance at all. According to the office of state insurance commissioner Troy Downing, only 18 households had flood insurance policies in Red Lodge, 58 in Carbon County, nine in Livingston, 77 in unincorporated parts of Park County and two in Columbus.

“Because survivors of these floods are particularly vulnerable, the scale and scope of the devastation in these communities makes it clear that no amount of insurance is sufficient to meet the immediate or long-term needs of the survivors of such devastation,” the letter states.

Compounding the complex recovery efforts is the counties’ reliance on tourism to Yellowstone National Park. According to the letter, the park generates more than $237 million in spending, creating more than $100 million in business income across the state.

Carbon and Park counties may be hardest hit by this factor.

“Not only have they suffered some of the biggest damage, but they also have the largest share of travel and tourism-related jobs in south central Montana,” the letter reads. “It is difficult to underestimate the importance of the upcoming tourism season for these communities.”

In Montana, about 20% of jobs are related to travel and tourism. But in Carbon County, the industry accounts for 39% of jobs and 26% of wages. In Park County, it accounts for 31% of jobs and 26% of wages.

Nine major highways were also heavily damaged, and many areas remain inaccessible due to a lack of alternative roads, according to the letter.

To help restore highways and rebuild access to Yellowstone National Park, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced $65 million in emergency relief funding Thursday — $60 million will go to the National Park Service, $3 million will go to the Department of Transportation In Montana $2 million will be allocated to the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

The amount is a down payment to help repair flood damage that has closed Yellowstone National Park and affected roads and bridges in Montana, Wyoming, and surrounding areas, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Every year Americans look forward to spending time in Yellowstone, and for neighboring communities, their tourism is a vital part of the regional economy,” Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trutenberg said in the statement. “We are committed to providing immediate assistance with emergency relief funding, to repair roads and bridges in Yellowstone and the surrounding area damaged in this latest wave of flooding as quickly as possible.”

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