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June 20, 2011
BAUCUS SHARES STORIES OF MONTANA’S FLOOD DISASTER HEROES ON U.S. SENATE FLOOR
Senator Highlights Montana’s Unsung Heroes
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus highlighted five unsung Montana heroes during speech today on the floor of U.S. Senate. They are part of Baucus’ “Montana Hero of the Day” initiative drawing attention to people who have gone the extra mile to help their neighbors through the 2011 flooding disaster.
The Baucus “Montana Heroes of the Day” honored today are:
· Bruce Sunchild, Chippewa Cree Tribe
· Dave Dickman of Great Falls
· Floyd Fisher, Golden Valley Sheriff/Coroner/DES Administrator/Fire Chief/EMT
· Curt Belts of Missoula
· John Bebee of Lewistown
Last week he recognized:
· Pastor Cathy Moorehead of Roundup
· Father Daniel Wathan of Roundup
· April Toineeta of Crow Agency
· Charlie and Gail Brence of Mill Iron
· Darin Falcon of Wolf Point
Last Friday, Baucus announced a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration for the state of Montana, making federal resources available for county, local and tribal governments and private nonprofit organizations that are responding to recent flooding. Today, he urged Montana communities in need of help navigating the process to reach out to his office for assistance. Since severe floods struck the state mid-May, Baucus has been steadily applying pressure to federal agencies to provide flood victims with all available assistance as quickly as possible.
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(text as prepared for delivery)
Floor Statement of Senator Max Baucus
Montana Flood Heroes
June 20, 2011
Christopher Reeves once said that, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
I rise today to once again call attention to five Montana heroes. Every-day folks making a super heroic effort to help their friends and neighbors. I enjoy sharing these stories. I’m proud of these stories. They tell the story of what it is to be a Montanan.
My home state continues to face severe flooding. The Jefferson River is over its banks at Three Forks. The Milk River continues to spill into Glasgow. And the Missouri River is flooding Toston. Rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. Record snowpack levels remain in the mountains.
Montanans across the state continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to help. As you can see, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is under water for the second time in a year.
Bruce Sun Child is the Interim Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe. He has been working around the clock to help his tribe through this emergency. For those who lost their homes, he helped them find a place to sleep. For the sick, he found a way to get them to the hospital.
Dave Dickman owns a business in Great Falls called Dickman Excavation. After flooding threatened homes in Great Falls, Dave donated thousands of sand bags to Montana families working to protect their homes from rising waters.
When asked by the papers about what he did, he humbly said “I know my neighbors would do the same to help me out if I needed a hand.”
Floyd Fisher is the Golden Valley Sheriff. He is also the County Coroner. And Floyd is the County Fire Chief. He’s also the disaster and emergency services director. And he works as an EMT responding to ambulance calls. As you can tell, Floyd is a busy man.
After learning of an impending flash flood in Ryegate last week, Floyd initiated the county’s reverse 9-1-1 alert system. He then rushed across town door-to-door with an evacuation order. Shortly thereafter, two feet of water flooded city streets.
After the floods, Floyd kept at it. He directed traffic away from washed out roads. He picked up a broom to help clean out Super D’s Grocery. He provided emergency medical care.
Floyd has been working around the clock. Catching an hour or two of sleep when he can fit it in. If you want to understand Montana: look no further than Floyd. His efforts sum it up very well.
Last week, Missoula County set up a flooding hotline to help people facing rising floodwaters. Before long, the hotline received dozens of calls from volunteers interested in helping their neighbors. Missoula’s former Rural Fire Chief Curt Belts stepped up to help.
Curt worked with the United Way to organize over sixty volunteers daily. He made sure sand bags were placed at key locations around Missoula to minimize damage from flooding. Working fourteen-hour days.
Ask any of the volunteers around Missoula, and they’ll tell you that Curt made all the difference. Even down to the finest details, like sunscreen and bug spray for volunteers. Runoff is expected to swell the river again soon. Thanks to Curt, Missoula is ready.
In Lewistown, John Bebee’s home was safe and dry. But his neighbors near the river were in danger. For the last three weeks, he’s been sandbagging homes in Lewistown in most danger. No one needed to ask him for help – he just knew there was a need and headed in that direction.
In the Upper Missouri River Breaks in north central Montana, cottonwood trees need floods to regenerate. Floods along the Missouri clear away rich bare soil for new cottonwoods to take root. Hydrologists with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Lewistown say that this year’s floods could help establish a new generation of cottonwood trees. The aging stands had been in danger of disappearing altogether.
Like the cottonwood, Montana will return from these floods stronger than ever. And that is because of hundreds of unsung heroes stepping up to help their neighbor.
I’m asking Montanans to share their stories of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things for their friends and neighbors. Whether on Facebook or by calling my office, we want to hear these inspiring stories.
In closing, I want to share a humble thank you all of Montana’s heroes back home. I don’t know what we’d do without you. Thank you for your service.
(end statement text)
Baucus is encouraging people across the state to share stories of Montanans going the extra mile to help each other through the flooding disaster by commenting on his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SenatorBaucus
Contact: Kate Downen 406-224-5056 or Kathy Weber 406-657-6790
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Montana Press Secretary| U.S. Senator Max Baucus| 406-657-6790| baucus.senate.gov