BILLINGS — East Rosebud Lake has long been a paradise for the nearly six dozen cabin owners there. But weeks ago when the flooding hit, paradise looked more like hell.
Now, property owners are unsure when they will be able to return to their cabins. The U.S. Forest Service told them it could be two to three years before the road is repaired.
“Even though they are cabins and they’re not our homes, they are kind of our homes, and they are our homes for the summer and fall for years and years and years, so it’s a loss. It’s a big loss not being able to get back up there,” said Teresa Erickson, whose primary residence is in Billings, on Thursday.
Erickson is the president of the East Rosebud Lake Association. She left on June 12, the day the flood waters knocked out the road.
“When you have a cabin in, essentially the wilderness, you kind of have to accept whatever Mother Nature dishes out,” Erickson said.
This year's flooding majorly damaged five cabins on the lake.
Property owners at East Rosebud Lake have seen disaster before. In 1996, 33 of the 68 cabins burned down. In 1974, major flooding also occurred.
Greg Aldrich's cabin has been in his family for nearly 100 years, so he is no stranger to what Mother Nature can do.
“This is Montana, you just roll with the punches,” Aldrich said.
But when the previous disasters threatened homes, there was always a road to the lake. This time is different.
“It's steep, it's gnarly, it's rocky. It’s going to be a tough thing to rebuild that road,” said Erickson.
“Well, they just gotta get it to where we can four-wheel drive in there. Be like the old days,” said Aldrich.
The East Rosebud Lake Association plans to fly out 22 volunteers to the lake by helicopter this week to start picking up the pieces.