MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula County emergency workers are preparing for what could be a big flood year. But they want residents to be prepared too.
For some, that might mean purchasing flood insurance. But there's a catch. It can take 30 days to go into effect.
"It warms up and we get a fair amount of snow meltoff, then it cools off which gives it a chance to flush out. That's actually what we want to see," said Office of Emergency Services Manager Chris Lounsbury at a Missoula County Commissioners' meeting Wednesday.
"We are definitely looking at the same amounts of snowpack that we looked at in 2011 and the question is just at what rate does it come off?" Lounsbury said.
Lounsbury and other Missoula County officials are gearing up for the possibility of flooding that could be similar to 2011, when neighborhoods and entire streets were under water.
"If you live in an area that's prone to flooding it's really worth the time to go and talk to your insurance agent," Lounsbury said.
The National Flood Insurance Program website allows residents to put in an address and get a risk level. From there a person can start finding insurance.
Missoula County has a floodplain website as well. Residents can see where their home is on a floodplain map.
Missoula County Floodplain Administrator Todd Klietz said there are currently 235 policies in the county. Of those, 221 are single family homes. 116 of the policies are for people inside the 100-year floodplain.
Klietz said those in the floodplain are paying an average of $921 dollars a year, while property owners outside of the floodplain are paying an average $390 a year.
Despite the cost, emergency workers say it's worth it; even two inches of water can do tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.