Wildfire and Flood 2023: Are you ready?

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After 2022’s historic flooding of the Yellowstone River, folks in Billings and surrounding areas are preparing themselves for another Spring and Summer of Mother Nature.

PHOTO: Flood survivor sorts through personal mementos in the barn badly damaged by the severe flooding in Fromberg, Mont., Friday, June 17, 2022.

Flooding is a major concern after the catastrophic wildfire and flooding the state endured last year. Red Lodge and Fromberg were among those hardest hit.

Fires are almost 90% human-caused but mother nature plays a role too with lightning strikes.

A number of wildfires start by lightning strike.

However, the Congressional Research Service reports most wildfires are unplanned fires, including lightning-caused fires, unauthorized human-caused fires , and escaped prescribed fire projects. “States are responsible for responding to wildfires that begin on nonfederal (state, local and private) lands, except for lands protected by federal agencies under cooperative agreements,” according to CRS.

PHOTO Courtesy Billing Beat: Heavy wildfire smoke hangs over Billings during Summer 2022.

Wildfires can be human or naturally caused but they can be life-threatening in many ways. You don’t have to be out in the wild fighting the fires to be affected. The heavy haze from wildfires can cause breathing problems for those with pre-existing medical conditions including COPD and even asthmas for those who are sensitive.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Centers, it takes very little rain rain to cause flooding or mudflows. The risk of flooding skyrockets until vegetation grows back and that can take up to five or more years.

Wildfires are costly.

That means Montanans need to plan for areas that were scorched by wildfires last season or areas that were washed away.

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