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Hardin families struggling with aftermath of flooding

BAUGHMAN
Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 12, 2023

Hardin families are still struggling with the aftermath of the flooding during massive storms at the end of June.

While it's been weeks since the water subsided, many families are still trying to pick up the pieces, and some are worried that help may never come.

For Alberta Wall, it's a day that she won't forget. Wall was at her brother's funeral when the storm hit, so when she arrived at home, she was greeted by a disaster.

WALL

"I was scared," Wall told MTN Wednesday morning. "I knew we lost everything down there. I knew it."

Water poured into Wall's basement, destroying carpet and electrical sockets in their home.

"It was horrible," Wall said. "I could see the water down there, and I knew it was still coming up because I could hear it. We were afraid it was going to come all the way up the stairs."

As the flood waters poured in, Wall said she began to panic, and her mind filled with questions.

"Am I going to have to move? Where am I going to go?" Wall said. "I didn't know which way to turn or what to do. All I could do is cry."

All of the water is now gone from their basement, but the nightmare remains. Mold covers the basement walls, and the cost of repairs is overwhelming.

But the good news for the Walls is that help is arriving. An organization called Montana Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (MT VOAD) is helping 16 homeowners in Big Horn County, including the Walls.

MT VOAD Secretary Dallas Erickson said the area was hit hard by flooding and it's hard for the families to get the resources they need.

"We're not getting the same response in Hardin because it's more remote," Erickson said. "My heart goes out to these families that are suffering."

HARDIN FLOOD

Erickson said he knows there are many other families in Hardin that his organization can't help.

"I just spoke with a couple of them today, and they still need help disinfecting their basement and cleaning up," Erickson said.

One of those homeowners struggling to find help is 79-year-old Joyce Baughman. Her roof has been falling apart for years, and the most recent storm only made things worse.

"I get worried," Baughman said. "I wonder what's going to happen."

Baughman said that every time it storms, she fears her roof will collapse. She has buckets placed in five locations in her house ready to collect rainfall through the leaks.

"I'm afraid it's going to fall in," Baughman said. "It's very scary because I don't know what's going to happen."

The lights in Baughman's bedroom no longer work due to flood damage and cardboard boxes are used to patch some of the ceiling. For Baughman's granddaughter Trisha Miller, it's a helpless feeling watching the home deteriorate.

"It's Mother Nature," Miller said. "You can't fight it, but at the same time it comes at a huge cost for people that don't have anything."

So, Miller has taken matters into her own hands, creating a GoFundMe page, hoping to generate funds for her grandma.

"She doesn't like to ask for help because she's so independent," Miller said. "But she could use the help, and so I'm asking for her."

And while she doesn't like asking for help, Baughman is still frustrated with her living situation. All family pictures that used to line the walls are now damaged and hidden in boxes — something that Baughman said is hard to swallow.

"It's my family," Baughman said. "I have nothing on the walls. Nothing. It's all gone."

It's her sudden reality and one she is hoping will soon change.

"I don't like it. I don't like living like this," Baughman said.