FROMBERG — Clark Fork River flooding has taken out houses and forced evacuations along Highway 310 from Belfry to Edgar as of Tuesday.
The town of Fromberg has about 450 people-–half of whom live on the west side of the Clark Fork River and half on the east. The east side, made up of about 100 houses, has been consumed by flood waters.
“We battled for the east side of Fromberg and we lost the battle,” says Tim Nottingham, mayor of Fromberg.
Nottingham describes the damage done as ‘catastrophic’ and points to houses and entire trailer parks that are flooded.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to recover. We’ve got teams lined up ready to go in just as soon as they can,” Nottingham said.
Flood waters rose Sunday and Monday, driving residents out of their homes after sandbags and sump pumps failed.
In addition to people needing to leave their homes, livestock up and down the river corridor needed to be evacuated as well.
On Tuesday, people gathered on the western side of Fromberg filled sandbags as water started threatening that side of town.
Fromberg Resident Aaron Muhs used sandbags to pack the banks of the ditch near his house on the west side of Fromberg, which was starting to rise.
His brother in Red Lodge has already been evacuated from his water-damaged home.
“It’s a mess, it’s a terrible mess,” Muhs said.
A shelter and place to cook food has been set up at the Fromberg High School. Up the road at the Bridger School, the Red Cross has set up another shelter for evacuees.
Mary Sink and Diane Lesser were in the shelter in Bridger Tuesday afternoon, after their homes were flooded and they had to quickly evacuate.
“It just kept rising and rising and I said ‘okay, it’s not just the cattle that have to go, we have to got too,” Sink said.
Sink said she and her husband drove to town at night, flagged down a police officer, and asked where to go. The officer directed her to the Red Cross shelter at the Bridger School.
The communities are bracing themselves for more flooding and the aftermath of the disaster.
“Everything is just flooded completely and it’s the biggest thing people have seen in years and years. It’s a 100-year flood,” Sink said.