Bigfork residents learn flood preparation

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Some 30 people showed up in Bigfork on Tuesday to learn how to make a 96-hour survival pack in case of a flood emergency.

The Bigfork training was presented by Lana Nelson.

Nelson and her husband Bruce, a retired chiropractor, are trying to help residents prepare for what could be a heavy flood season in late May or early June.

Mountain snowpack is heavier than normal. Bruce Nelson said the Flathead River in Columbia Falls and the Swan River near Bigfork are supposed to breach their banks this spring.

“If the heat and the rain come all at once, imagine the pandemonium” if people don’t prepare, he said.

Attendees on Tuesday heard from several speakers, including Mark Noland of Rainbow Restoration, who talked about making sandbags. He said there are three different ways to fill a sandbag faster than by using a shovel. These include using plastic instruments, Bruce Nelson said.

Bigfork-area residents will practice filling sandbags with a local Boy Scout troop from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Sliter’s Ace Hardware in Bigfork.

Some of the sandbags will be made available for sale at the business.

Several churches, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the First Baptist Church, are helping with the preparedness effort.

The LDS Church has volunteered to help with communication, food and water, while First Baptist is helping with sandbagging.

The Flathead Valley Amateur Radio Club will offer training for those who want to become ham radio operators, Nelson said.

One reason he wants to be prepared is because he experienced the 1964 flood in Great Falls.

Lana Nelson is available to teach others how to make 96-hour packs. The food typically costs $20 and the packs last for six months to a year.

For more information, call 837-0923.

Reporter Caleb Soptelean may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at

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