A prolonged winter storm has closed roads, schools and tribal offices on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Five feet of wind-drifted snow buried roads in some places, preventing plows from reaching outlier communities like Heart Butte. Some people have been stranded since the weekend after a blizzard moved through the eastern Rocky Mountain front last week.
Even in Browning, the reservation's government seat, the combination of wind and snow forced schools and tribal offices to close since Monday, and made many roads impassable.
Lynne Keenan, child nutrition director for Browning Public Schools, says volunteers have been working with the tribal transportation department to deliver sack lunches to school-aged children in Browning.
"Yesterday we were able to give 200 lunches out and that was it, because we just couldn't make it in places. I mean, there was no way. We tried and tried," says Keenan.
An emergency shelter serving hot lunches was moved Tuesday from Browning Middle School to K. W. Bergan Elementary after the middle school was engulfed by drifting snow.
Keenan says travelers and truckers were stranded in Browning after the Montana Department of Transportation closed U.S. Highway 2 and 89. Road conditions remain icy, snow covered, poor visibility and closed in some places.
Conditions improved slightly on Wednesday, but a winter weather advisory for blowing snow and additional snowfall in Browning, Heart Butte and Marias Pass remains in place until 11 a.m. Thursday.