Flood waters rushed over Bozeman roads and into nearby homes Wednesday, detouring motorists and sending some residents scrambling to protect their property.
Sumner Lokken arrived at work to find water streaming across Mendenhall Street toward the front door of his family business, Lokken Printing.
"I was here at 8:30 p.m. last night and the water wasn't on the road at all," Lokken said Wednesday morning. "At 7:30 a.m., I got here and saw this."
Bozeman Creek, which normally flows underneath Mendenhall Street, swelled up over the pavement, flowed across and continued its course through downtown.
Lokken and his wife Deb stacked sandbags in front of the building. They moved printing paper off the floor and wondered if they'd need to move printing presses.
Next door to Lokken Printing, water lapped against the front of Gallatin Valley Natural Medicine. Six workers hucked sandbags in front of the doors.
"I've been through this before," building owner Ev Cope said. "I saw this in '75 and '97.
"It's just like life," Cope said. "(Bozeman Creek) is a beautiful asset, but sometimes it's not so friendly. You take the bitter with the sweet."
The creek's waters have never gotten high enough to flood the inside of the building, Cope said, "and it won't now."
One street north of Mendenhall, on Lamme Street, Creekside Park had become a pond. City workers roped the park off with caution-tape. Sidewalks in front of it were closed.
Across the creek from the park, waves crashed against a heap of sandbags holding back the water from a house behind them.
On the opposite side of town, water swamped Kagy Boulevard, between South Third Avenue and Church Street. The city closed a portion of Kagy and adjacent Carol Place.
Water rushed across Kagy and onto several properties.
Fritz Pendelton, manager of Woodhenge Condominium Association, said each of the four condos in her building had standing water in its crawl space. In one condo, the water was nearly two feet deep.
"It's too late to sandbag," Pendelton said.
Pendelton and other condo residents said they planned to pump the water out.
Several Bozeman residents who experienced Wednesday's flooding said it seemed worse than in 2008 when similar areas were inundated.
City Manager Chris Kukulski said the city is prepared for this year to be wetter.
"If you've experienced any kind of flooding in the past decade, you should be preparing for it this year," he said Wednesday.
City workers are monitoring roads, parks and trails and trying to keep spillways as open as possible so the water can flow.
"This is a middle-of-June to late-June potential peak for snow runoff, so we've still got a good three weeks to go here that we could experience higher water, but that's going to be reliant on the weather," Kukulski said.
Any spike in temperatures or added rain could cause overflow.
The Gallatin River near Logan entered flood stage on Wednesday. The waterway is expected to crest at nine feet deep today before levels drop again. Flood stage is 8 feet deep.
On the outskirts of Bozeman, water washed over Nelson, Manley and Bozeman Trail roads. Sourdough Canyon Road, south of town was closed.
The city also shut down several trails.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the East Gallatin trail system on the east side of the East Gallatin River and the Spur Trail off the north side of the Galligator Trail, leading down to the Bozeman headgate, were closed. Use of Gardner Park trail was discouraged and rising water levels were being assessed on Sourdough Trail.
Outside of Bozeman, numerous other roads were closed due to flooding.
The Montana Department of Transportation closed a portion of the westbound lane of Interstate 90 at mile marker 349 past Livingston because of water on the highway, said Belinda Van Nurden, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Park County.
Near the highway closure, at Springdale, water soaked the basement of Springdale School, Van Nurden said.
In Park County, Mission Creek Road, which serves a handful of homes and ranches in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains, remained closed Wednesday due to flooding.
Mission Creek Road's intersection with Swingley Road, "was like a big lake," Van Nurden said.
The Shields River near Livingston hit 6.4 feet deep Wednesday, about a foot above flood stage.
"There is water in some of the fields and there is water around some homes, but I have not heard of water getting into any of the homes," Van Nurden said.
For Bozeman residents, the Montana Conservation Corps announced Wednesday that it will be working with Bozeman's City Hall and the Bozeman Senior Center to help residents sandbag or otherwise reduce the risk of flood damage. Residents desiring assistance should call MCC at 586-0151.
Flood updates are available from the Gallatin County Emergency Services at www.readygallatin.com and the city at www.bozeman.net.
Amanda Ricker can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2628.