FROMBERG — Just days ago, the east side of the railroad tracks in Fromberg was knee-deep in water. Now just days after the flood water is mostly gone, residents are left assessing the damage.
This is not how Fromberg resident Jesse Sanchez expected he would start his summer- hauling away tree branches and cleaning debris outside his neighbor’s home.
But nearly half of this community was underwater Tuesday, when the Clark's Fork River spilled its banks and swallowed homes.
Making matters worse, few to none of the homeowners in Fromberg have flood insurance.
“No, I don’t think anybody here does. If it was even available, I don’t think anyone could even afford it,” said Elton Kirtley, whose basement was damaged, Thursday.
“By the sounds of all the talk it just sounds like nobody has flood insurance,” added Sanchez.
And there’s good reason for that. Most homeowners here have never had to worry about flooding. One resident told MTN News that flood insurance would have cost him $10,000 a year, and he had only owned his home for eight years. That amount of money exceeds the damage done to his home from this flood.
“There’s different zones, there’s different territories. And that’s true- so you can get flood insurance but the affordability of it sometimes is an issue for homeowners,” said Kari Jones, a State Farm Insurance agent.
Jones says all flood insurance comes through the National Flood Program and homeowners in the region can only be covered up to $250,000 for replacement costs.
“Unfortunately, more than likely homeowners are going to be left with financial responsibility on their own,” said Jones.
Homeowners without insurance are now hoping for help from the federal government through FEMA, and they are optimistic now that Gov. Greg Gianforte's office has declared the flooding a disaster.
“We’re hoping that you know some FEMA will step up and help out just like Red Lodge. Do something for some of the folks around here,” Sanchez said.
It’s a community that will be dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday's flooding, for weeks if not years to come.
“It’s millions of dollars of devastation,” Sanchez said.