Montana's flood-damaged property owners face lengthy process to aid

Eric Young

The L Bar W Cattle Company in Absarokee lies on two miles of riverbed along the Stillwater. During last month’s catastrophic flooding, the ranch saw fencing and irrigation systems wash away, new channels formed and filled with acres of debris in a matter of hours and what was left over will take time to mend.  

“It’s been overwhelming to see what she [the river] had done,” co-owner and operator Denise Loyning said. “And it’s been amazing to see how much she’d done in a short amount of time.”

Across Park, Carbon and Stillwater counties, there have been reports of lost houses, barns, fences and headgates along with damaged telephone lines, wells, driveways and bridges. Some ranchers have been physically separated from their houses, barns and livestock since the flooding began. 

Typically, these types of repairs would fall solely on the property owners or their insurance companies since it is all private infrastructure. But the presidential disaster declaration that followed shortly after the flooding has opened up a few opportunities for government-backed relief.

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Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened Disaster Centers in Livingston, Gardiner,

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