GARDINER, Mont. - Earlier this month, the Yellowstone region saw some of the worst flooding in its history. Several roads, buildings and trees were destroyed by the rushing water in an area known for its pristine beauty.
The combination of several inches of rain and rapid melting of the snowpack caused rivers near Yellowstone National Park to reach historic flood stages, including the Yellowstone, Boulder and Stillwater rivers. More than 10,000 people were thought to be in the park when the flooding happened, and more than 80 people had to be rescued.
For Victoria Britton, the disaster became personal when the raging rapids swept away their home.
Britton said that about 6:30 a.m. June 13, a neighbor was beating on their door telling them an archway in their yard had been overtaken by the floodwaters. They went outside to find only 10 feet of land between their house and the river, where there is normally a 30-foot separation. Support wires that were holding up a telephone pole were starting to wash away, which raised concerns about what would happen to the people inside the home if the pole were to fall on it.
Britton said she knew her family only had an hour or two to evacuate.
"In the rush to leave, we were able to grab the dogs, bird, my laptop, important papers and the neighbor's cat," Britton said. "My husband didn’t even grab socks or underwear because he said, ‘We will be back in a couple days. This isn’t going to happen.’"
Britton said she and her family moved to higher ground and watched as their house was taken by the rising river.
"Every few minutes, another chunk of the bank fell off," Britton said.
Britton said she has seen rising water in the past after living through Superstorm Sandy when she lived in the Jersey area, but this isn't something for which she had prepared.
"It was pretty unheard of for the water to get as high as the house, and while I’ve always feared it could happen, I never thought it actually would," Britton said.
Britton said her family didn’t have renter's insurance, but their neighbors did. She said the insurance companies told her neighbors that their policies don't cover this type of disaster.
"The only thing keeping us going is the support and help of everyone around us and around the world, not just the country," she said.
Britton said her brother set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the family's recovery.