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Missoula County Officials Prepared for Weather Related Emergencies [AUDIO]

Washington Mudslide
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images

The people living in the path of last week’s deadly landslide in Washington state had virtually no warning of the danger they faced.

Missoula County officials have been studying conditions around western Montana closely.

Director of Emergency Services for Missoula City and County Chris Lounsbury said on Monday that the Missoula area has seen an unusual amount of moisture and saturation.

“Certainly, this is a year where we’ve seen a lot of saturation of moisture into the ground,” Lounsbury said. “We had that large amount of snowfall that came into the valleys, and we all saw all that early snow melt. The ground became saturated and we saw a lot of water, so landslides, while not a common occurrence in Missoula County, certainly this year, we have an expectation of a slightly greater expectation of that happening.”

Lounsbury said officials are keeping any eye on certain locations that may be susceptible to possible landslides or mudslides.

“Some of the areas where we’re keeping a close eye out include around the Nine Mile, or along Highway 200 where we have those steeper narrow canyons where we’ve had some problems in the past, although those were mostly back in the 1980′s,” Lounsbury said.

“Our search and rescue and our county sheriff’s deputies are available and we have them all on standby alert. We’re fortunate to have a great search and rescue department here in Missoula County who have training should they be needed. In addition to that, we have our notification systems such as reverse 9-1-1 should we need to send a message to residents in a certain area, if there is a problem.”

A landslide on Sunday afternoon closed the westbound lanes of I-90, but as of 2:30 p.m., two way traffic has resumed on the eastbound lanes.

Director of Emergency Services for Missoula City and County Chris Lounsbury

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