Tester: Expedite Federal Assistance for Stranded Montana Families in Glacier County

Senator Calls FEMA, Requests Help for Snowed In Communities

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on federal officials to be ready to provide disaster relief as large amounts of snow continue to accumulate across the state, personally discussing local needs with FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

Several winter storm systems have caused severe snowdrifts, extreme cold and blizzard conditions, and have dumped more than 80 inches of snow in certain areas around Browning in February.

“Although tribal and county leaders, the state of Montana, and local officials are conducting life-saving work to assist stranded families, this work is time consuming and costly,” said Tester. “Hundreds of people in northwestern and southeastern Montana have been stranded in remote areas and are unable to restock firewood or food.”

Tester reached out to Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes this week to see what assistance the tribe needed. Tester then personally spoke to Administrator Long informing him of the ongoing extreme weather conditions in northwest Montana.

Tester is also requesting immediate assistance from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

In his request to federal officials, Tester highlights the added strain that snowfall puts on agriculture operations and the need to work proactively to prevent flooding from future snowmelt.

“I request this assistance at all stages, including when flooding threatens these communities as a result of snowmelt,” continued Tester. “It is critical that response support is provided to the impacted Tribes and counties to effectively coordinate response efforts.”

According to reports some residents in the Browning area haven’t been able to get out of their homes in 20 days and Montana farmers and ranchers are unable to get food for their livestock due to multiple road closures.

Areas affected by the winter storms are currently under a state of emergency as more snow is expected in the coming days.

You can read Tester’s full letter HERE.