Tribal officials on the Crow Reservation in northern Montana were warning of water-supply contamination on May 25 as searches went on for residents who'd been stranded in the flood-soaked region when the Little Bighorn River overwhelmed its banks.
Tribal information officer Jared Stewart told the Billings Gazette that the water treatment plant had been flooded and said residents should boil water before consumption. He also warned that people must avoid creeks and riverbanks.
Meanwhile, flooding throughout southeastern Montana had destroyed at least 50 homes, leaving 60 families homeless on the Crow Reservation, the tribe said in a media release on May 24. Residents were evacuated to shelters in Hardin and Billings, though some refused to leave their homes.
"There are families and elders still isolated and stranded in their homes," tribe spokesman Donald Spotted Tail told the AP. "There's no way for them to access basic human needs such as food and water."
Food was delivered to more than 100 people near Pryor, and that “an unknown number of people from the nearby Northern Cheyenne reservation also have been evacuated because of concerns of flooding along the Rosebud Creek and Tongue River,” the wire service reported.
“It’s hard to assess the exact number of families impacted by this disaster or the monetary damage to our infrastructure,” said Chairman Black Eagle in the tribe’s statement.
Residents allowed to return found their homes to be a total loss. Crews were continuing to fill sand bags as they braced for more rainfall and potential flooding expected this week. Crews also continue to rescue isolated families, the tribe said.
“Donations are desperately needed,” the Crow Tribe’s release said. “Any level of donation is valuable in sustaining and rebuilding the community and families of the Crow Community.”
The displaced need water, household items such as toiletries, clothing and baby items, and nonperishable food items, the tribe said. More information is available from the tribe's Incident Command Center, 406-638-2247.