Ice jam leaves Gallatin Gateway residents stranded


Ice jam leaves Gallatin Gateway residents stranded

GALLATIN GATEWAY, Mont. - Uncharted territory is how officials with the Gallatin Gateway Fire Department describe an ice jam along the Gallatin River.

As of Thursday afternoon officials say the only road closed to traffic is Axtell Gateway Road in Gallatin Gateway. That road is covered in ice and rising water and is not safe to travel.

We found Mills Ripley Thursday morning, slowly walking down his driveway, up to his knees in water. The recent change in the flooding along the Gallatin River has left Ripley's yard unrecognizable.

"We've been kind of expecting a second blow, but I wish I would have been able to move my one car," said Ripley.

Since Wednesday, he has been in his front yard for hours at a time, making sure the ice and water flow downstream.

"We cant get out -- we have a moat, so to speak," said Ripley.

Ripley, his wife and son have not been able to leave since Wednesday. Luckily the water has not crept close enough to cause any damage to the home, but not everything could escape the ice jam.

"I have a couple of older vehicles I couldn't get out, they didn't start, they were lost anyhow," said Ripley.

Despite the mess Mother Nature has made, Ripley is keeping his head up, hoping for the best.

"All we have to do is maintain the ditches, so to speak, so if it does not catastrophically come down and we will be fine," said Ripley.

Kevin Lauer with the Gallatin Gateway Fire Department stopped by to check on Ripley's situation. Lauer explains that an ice jam is just a waiting game.

"We can't say, this is what is going to happen, because it hasn't happened here like this before," said Ripley.

We found officials are not just watching, they are taking action.

"There is a road grader that the highway department has brought in to break up the ice," said Ripley.

Ripley is thankful for the help and says the past few days have been an opportunity to see how a community comes together.

"They are all very helpful and concerned so that is neat to see," said Ripley.

If the ice jam gets to a point where evacuations are necessary, fire officials tell us they use a reverse 911 system in place to call residents and alert them.

The local Red Cross is on alert to help residents if they are displaced by flooding.

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