Governor Greg Gianforte has issued an official disaster declaration after the devastating floods that have occurred in Yellowstone National Park and the adjacent Carbon, Park and Stillwater Counties.

Montana’s State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Troy Downing acknowledged that declaration, as well as offering his prayers for the communities devastated by the flooding in the area.

Downing spoke to KGVO News as he was traveling in the affected communities about how vital it is to have flood insurance in an area that may be prone to such a disaster.

“That's the million dollar question right there,” began Commissioner Downing. “You’ve got the National Flood Insurance Program, which is the federal program and then there are private programs as well. We try to get messaging out every year about purchasing that because generally, purchasing flood insurance has about a 30 day lead time so it doesn't become effective until about 30 days after, so it's not something you can buy last minute.”

Downing said the good news about the governor’s disaster declaration is that even those who have not purchased flood insurance may still receive federal help with their damaged homes and property.

“Since the governor has declared a state disaster, that releases federal funds, and in the SBA Disaster Assistance Loan Program, there may be low interest loans for uninsured folks to recover from and rebuild after their losses. So our advice is going to be the same to both,” he said.

The federal government and the flood insurance agency won’t just take your word for the amount of damage done to your property, so having detailed, meticulous records is of the utmost importance.

“Be meticulous about keeping records and keeping receipts as you're displaced, and then as soon as it's safe after the flood waters have receded, there is an expectation and a duty to mitigate,” he said. “So make sure that you start dealing with the issues as soon as practicable so that it doesn't get worse. In other words start trying to dry out and deal with those issues.”

Downing expanded on that advice to help a homeowner or a business owner provide the most complete information after a flood.

“Our advice is take lots of pictures because if you've got a flooded house and you're tearing out carpeting or curtains and whatever else, before that goes to the dump, keep samples of it so that you have a good record of the quality,” he said. “If you're tearing out appliances, take pictures of the serial numbers. That way you have a good record of what they were. Then when it does get to the point where you are either making that insurance claim or getting that adjusted or making a claim for a Disaster Assistance Loan, you have really good records on what those expenses were.”

For those in Montana not yet affected by flooding, you can purchase flood insurance here.

Visit the State Insurance Commissioner’s website here, or call 406-444-2040.

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