Flooding, Evacuations After Breach of the “Ditch” in Billings
"Big Ditch has been shut off, breach between 19-22nd has been contained for now. Press conference at 3PM in the Yellowstone County board room today. Red Cross set up at Cedar Hall at MetraPark if residents need help."
That was the message shared by Yellowstone County Commissioner Denis Pitman Sunday afternoon. He also shared several photos showing the mud covered roads after water began leaking from the canal in Billings known as "the Big Ditch."
According to KULR-8 TV, reports from residents started flowing in around 7:15 Sunday morning that water and mud from the canal was flooding nearby homes and apartments. A blockage of the tunnel near North 15th Street in Billings was reportedly the reason for the flooding. KULR-8 added:
At 8:43 am the excavator was driven back to the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Burnstead Drive where it was helping to support eroded soil caused by the overflow, however, the soil and the excavator collapsed. The operator of the excavator got out uninjured.
In one of the photos below that were provided by the Billings Police Department following the Sunday afternoon press conference you can see a photo of the excavator.
The Billings Gazette shared additional info from Billings Police Lt. Brandon Wooley:
The first call to 911 from BBWA board president Jim Stott was at 7:06 a.m. By 7:23 a.m., BBWA was reporting the tunnel blockage near a North 15th Street entrance to the Rimrocks and by 8:30 a.m. the blockage had been removed, causing overflowing water to subside, according to Wooley.
Here is info for any residents impacted by the flooding, according to the Billings Fire Fighters Facebook page:
If you were displaced or need help from the incident today from the ditch overflow, this is the phone number for the Red Cross who is set up a shelter at cedar Hall at the Metra. 1-800-272-6668
KTVQ-TV has this additional background:
Earlier in the week, Billings Bench Water Association staff had the canal turned off and were working to lay a new liner in the canal bottom after it was found to be leaking near the area of North 14th Street and North 15th Street. In 2019, homeowners near the canal had their foundations shift after the canal wall shifted toward their homes.
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