State of Emergency Declared in Anaconda, Mont.

November 19, 2007

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer toured the damage caused in Anaconda last week by strong winds that uprooted trees, downed power lines and blew the roof off an old school building.

“When you have a community that pulls together like they do here, it just doesn’t get any better,” he said.

Damage from last Monday’s storm, with wind gusts of up to 70 mph, led local officials to declare a state of emergency, allowing them to access about $20,000 for restoration work.

“We’re declaring this emergency because financially we are being overwhelmed by the cost of what is happening and by the degree of damage throughout the city,” Bill Converse, the Anaconda-Deer Lodge Disaster and Emergency Services Director, told KXLF television.

The roof of Washington School was blown off and the debris scattered with the wind. Large trees were uprooted or snapped. Several landed on houses, while others landed on the street.

Schweitzer pledged help as he stood outside the damaged school.

“We’re going to work with the community to find all the vehicles through state and federal agencies to get this area back on its feet,” he said.

The storms knocked out power for much of Monday night. Outages were reported across the state, said Claudia Rapkoch, a spokeswoman for NorthWestern Energy.

Police Chief John Sullivan said the county’s 911 center received about 140 calls from Monday afternoon through Tuesday, most to report downed wires and toppled trees.

“I called everybody out,” he said. “They were very professional and did an excellent job. There’s not really a protocol for wind.”

Injuries from the storm caused only minor injuries, though property damage was extensive.

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