From Jill Valley at our sister station, KPAX, serving Missoula and Western Montana:
MISSOULA - Whether it's fires, floods, avalanches or earthquakes, Western Montanans are always there to help their neighbors.
And now they're connecting through Facebook and even freshmen to assist those stuck in the rising water. Dozens of students from Big Sky High School spent part of the day filling sandbags to help hold off the rising waters of the Clark Fork River.
It's hot and dirty work, but they know it matters to their community.
"All of these people are having a hard time living in their own houses right now, and it's in our own community," said Big Sky freshman Madison McDonald. "So especially seeing drone images of people having a hard time in their own homes. It's definitely something to work for."
Coincidentally, this volunteer effort is an extension of what they've been learning in the classroom about the power behind the snow pack.
"One of the things we've been doing is studying the relationship between the snow pack, the winter snow pack and the rivers," said Big Sky teacher Andrea Stephens. "And we've been telling the students this is going to be historic. And so as soon as we noticed that things were, homeowners were being affected here we said, 'Oh my gosh this is their neighborhood school', so we said yeah, we should get these guys out and help and they've been amazing. These guys have been absolutely incredible."
"I think they feel a sense of accomplishment a sense of pride in what they're doing," said Big Sky teacher Brandon Honzel. "We had some students yesterday who said they feel this was the best thing they've done because they felt like it was really meaningful to them. They felt like they actually accomplished something."
"It's interesting to see it in real life instead of it being taught in the classroom," said Katy, a freshman at Big Sky.
"Yea, its good to learn how to do it for the experience you can have," said Keara, another freshman at Big Sky.
It's just one effort to help Missoula-area flood victims. Nathan Stephens started a Facebook page called Missoula Flood Support so people can connect in this crisis.
"It came out of a sense to want to help in some way," Stephens said. "I have a lot of experience doing online marketing and doing a lot of things for Facebook. It's really a way to crowdsource.
Missoula Flood Support is connecting those who need help with those willing to give it. As this flood situation continues, that aid will stretch beyond the borders of Missoula.
"They're asking for support in Bonner and Clinton and in East Missoula now, as well," Stephens said. "So they're seeing the water rising in those areas and are concerned and they want to plan ahead. "I think people are ahead of the county in a way by paying attention to what's going on with the rivers and realizing warm weather is here and the melt is coming soon."
Continuing updates on flood evacuation areas in Missoula County can be found on Inciweb.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas