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CROW AGENCY, MONTANA - Tribal members of the Crow Tribe who were forced to leave their homes over a week ago due to the massive flooding on the Crow Tribe Reservation were able to leave Billings and get closer to home on Friday.
The tribal members were evacuated and displaced from their homes after the waters rose in the Little Big Horn and Big Horn Rivers. The catastrophic floods occurred as the result of heavy rains this spring and rapid melting of snow in the mountains which remained after the heavy snowfalls this past winter.
Many of the tribal members - adults and children - were evacuated to the University of Montana dormitories in Billings, which is about 80-miles from their homes. Today, tribal members who still could not go home were moved to the Crow Agency.
Motel Under Water
“For purposes of getting closer to home, people were moved to the all-purpose center at Crow Agency,” said Jana Sweeny, assistant director of the Montana Relief Operation, who works for the American Red Cross.
“People were anxious to get home to check on the condition of their homes.”
The rivers crested late last week, but the waters are now receding to levels that tribal members could safely assess the damage to their properties. As of Wednesday, 138 homes were deemed damaged and eight were determined to be unlivable and completely destroyed.
Aerial View of Crow Reservation Flooding
“We are now beginning to move from disaster relief to recovery,”
commented Brian LaMoure, who spoke with the Native News Network late Friday afternoon. LaMoure has been on loan for the past week to the Crow Tribe.
“The people of the Crow Tribe seem really resilient. The Tribe has come together and taken care of themselves,” added Sweeny. ”The tribal council is looking at the longer term housing needs of its tribal members.”
The Crow Tribe, Indian Health Services, FEMA, the Montana National Guard, several Montana state agencies and local officials have worked to make a bad situation tolerable for tribal members.
“The main thing is to make sure houses can be disinfected. Even the wells are checked to make sure water is safe to drink before people are allowed to go home,” said LaMoure.
While the Red Cross has assisted, many of tribal members have moved in temporarily with family members and friends who have not been impacted by the floods.
There are 110 cots and blankets available at the all-purpose community center at Crow Agency. Food and water is provided by the American Red Cross.
Donations to the American Red Cross can be made by going to their website at www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross is assisting other tribes impacted by the floods this spring in South Dakota and North Dakota.
Last week Friday, Tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle toured the reservation with Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer and US Senator Jon Tester. The three made visits to tribal members, toured damaged homes and viewed other flood areas by flying over in a helicopter.
posted June 4, 2011 6:17 am et
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