June Storm Brought Record Floods to Flathead Electric Co-op Service Territories

Getting the lights back on on the Montana-Wyoming border.

In the May issue of Light Reading, we introduced you to John Hahn, Journeyman Lineman in the Co-op’s Cooke City-Silver Gate service area, just north of Yellowstone National Park. In mid-June, after days of heavy rain and a rapidly melting snowpack combined for massive flooding and power loss, John asked for outage restoration assistance from the Flathead area crews.

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Co-op crews re-string a line across the floodwaters near Cooke City.
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Floodwaters washed out earth all the way to the doorstep of the building the Co-op uses for supply storage.
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Restoring power after the flood.

Flooding in the Cooke City area, June 2022.

Flooding in the Cooke City area, June 2022.

On June 14, linemen DaLane Daken, Michael Piper, Dave Robison, Nathan Vannoy, and Lance Williams, along with mechanic Michael Dicello, answered John’s call. The men didn’t hesitate to pack their personal gear, along with power poles, bucket trucks, and 4×4 backhoes, to head to Cooke City-Silver Gate for an unknown period of time. 

JUNE STORM BROUGHT RECORD FLOODS TO FLATHEAD ELECTRIC CO-OP SERVICE TERRITORIES
June storm brought record flooding to Flathead Electric Cooperative service territories.

Although washed-out bridges meant they had to go through Cody, Wyoming, to get to the flooded outage area, the crew arrived safely. They spent four days navigating floodwaters, setting new poles and lines, and getting the lights back on for the Co-op’s southern Montana members.

Restoring power requires specialized knowledge - and equipment!
Restoring power requires specialized knowledge – and equipment!

In addition to restoring power to Cooke City-Silver Gate members by June 17, the men helped clean up the flood’s aftermath, including the Co-op’s pole yard and supply warehouse. During the flood, they were partially washed into swollen Woody Creek, which Journeyman Line Foreman Daken recalled as “looking a lot more like a river than a creek that day.”

Woody Creek, June 2022 flooding
Woody Creek, June 2022 flooding

The crew returned home on Father’s Day to more rain in Flathead County, which declared a state of emergency in response to anticipated flooding. Residents bagged sand to keep the mighty Flathead River at bay. Pre-evacuation notices were issued for various low-lying communities, including southern Evergreen, northern Flathead Lake, and the Blankenship Bridge area. The river finally started to drop below flood stage during the last week of June. Your Co-op worked with multiple Flathead County agencies to ensure that electricity largely stayed on during the extended Flathead deluge. 

Co-op trustees and staff extend their very best wishes to all members, and Montanans, impacted by the historic June floods. Keep scrolling for more images.

More shots from the historic June 2022 flooding in Montana.

Historic flooding in Montana, June 2022.