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Billings family hoping to get lost property back from June flooding

Stillwater Mine
Posted at 10:10 AM, Nov 13, 2022

It's been nearly five months since disastrous floods swept out the road leading into the Stillwater Mine, but that isn't the only damage that the flood caused.

The Blazinas lost their cabin, located just down the road from the mine to the rushing water, and now they aren't even sure that they will have property to rebuild on.

"It was just a nightmare," Ted Blazina said. "It was something we never thought would happen."

A Stillwater Mine employee recorded a video on his cell phone of the cabin floating down the river. Today, the land where the cabin used to be located is now where the river water runs.

"Seeing our cabin go down the river and tumble in the water was just sickening," Blazina said about the video.

A few weeks ago, a meeting was held in Nye to discuss what the plan was for the road going forward. The Blazinas attended it to see what the future holds for their property.

“One of the engineers indicated to me that we might get some of our property back," Blazina said. "We’ll see how it goes. We may rebuild up here."

Officials at the meeting said that the delay in construction is due to a lot of things, but mainly because of the different governmental institutions involved.

"We've been trying to push really hard," said Stillwater County Commissioner Tyrel Hamilton at the meeting. "We've met with Senator Daines. We're continuing to try and get a meeting with Army Corps. A lot of these permits, one will be reviewed, and the next agency wouldn't review it until the first agency is done."

The road leading into the mine will be rebuilt, but in order for the Blazinas to get their property back, the construction will essentially need to reroute the river to its original flow.

“Every time I come up here, I have issues with it," Blazina said as he looked out at the water where his cabin used to be. "So, I prefer not to come up until they get this thing done. If we can get some of the land we lost back, that’s an improvement."

Even if the Blazinas are fortunate enough to rebuild, the scenery will look a whole lot different. Trees that used to block the view of the mine were lost to the flood, and now, the view of the mine is crystal clear.

“You really couldn’t see the mine from our property," Blazina said. "You had to get up on the highway to see it, but you can definitely see it now."