A brief respite from the flood waters of the Clark Fork River is allowing homeowners who have been evacuated a few precious hours to check on their property, keep pumps running and retrieve medications.

Director of Missoula County’s Office of Emergency Management, Adriane Beck is encouraging the over 60 homeowners to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It looks like we’re in a little bit of a lull where we’re seeing the lowest water levels that we’ve seen in the last two weeks,” said Beck. “We thought it was appropriate to allow those residents who are under evacuation orders to make a brief visit. The evacuation order is still in place, but it’s being modified to allow folks to freely come and go without having to check in at the roadblocks.”

Beck said sheriff’s deputies are keeping a close eye on the evacuated homes so that they remain secure.

“The security of those properties is one of the chief concerns of the sheriff , so there are deputies patrolling the area to make sure that people’s property is safe,” she said. “The intent is not for people to go in a revalidate their homes, but it is a way for them to freely come and go to get items, to check on their property without necessarily having those time clocks or checking in and out with the road blocks.”

Beck said this lull in the flooding will be short lived.

“As the river waters are expected to come back up we will go back to a situation where we actually have roadblocks for people to check in and out,” she said. “We have some updates on the weather that say the water has been coming down daily, but we again anticipate we’ll be in that moderate flood stage right around that 12 foot mark on that river gauge for some time and into the foreseeable future.”

The water level on the Clark Fork River above Missoula dipped to 10.5 feet on Tuesday morning and remains in minor flood stage. Current forecasts predict it will begin to rise again, reaching moderate flood stage around midnight Wednesday, May 23. Current forecasts predict it to rise to over 12 feet later this week and remain there for some time.