Buck Creek Festival on schedule
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
HELENA—“We’ve had some close calls before, but nothing this bad,” Helena City Councilwoman and Buck Creek Festival organizer Cris Nelson said of the massive flooding in Helena’s park just weeks before the annual Buck Creek Festival.
After heavy overnight rain, floodwaters swept over Helena’s park on April 7, changing the landscape and destroying both the playground and the concession stand.
“It’s literally destroyed,” Nelson said of the playground, much of which was carried away by rising water. She estimated it would take “tens of thousands of dollars” to repair and replace.
“We also lost the concession stand,” Nelson said. “The equipment was sitting in five to six feet of water.”
Nelson said Buck Creek water receded into its banks by morning on April 9, however conditions in the park have still not returned to normal. Helena’s annual Easter egg hunt, scheduled for April 12, was forced to relocate to Helena Elementary School.
However, Nelson is confident the Buck Creek Festival will carry on as planned.
“We’re thankful this happened with four weeks to go,” Nelson said. “The Streets Department has been awesome, as soon as the water receded they were down there cleaning up.”
According to Nelson, “the park itself will be back to normal,” although festival-goers can expect to see some minor landscape changes. She also indicated the famous duck race may have to be rerouted depending on obstacles and the flow of Buck Creek.
“It would be a very fast race right now,” Nelson said, noting the rapid flow of Buck Creek.
Even with the challenges posed by the flooding, Nelson remains optimistic.
“Everything could have been so much worse in so many ways,” Nelson said. “But we hope this is the last problem with Mother Nature, and we wish her good riddance.”