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'We'll build back better': Upwards of 300 structures affected by Fromberg flooding

Posted at 10:38 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 12:38:49-04

FROMBERG — Hundreds of Fromberg residents remain displaced after severe flooding affected about 100 homes on the east side of town.

On Monday, Fromberg Mayor Tim Nottingham gave scale to the disaster, saying 200-300 structures, which includes homes, barns, sheds and more, were affected by the flooding.

The damage is unlike anything Fromberg residents have seen.

Marci and Kurtis Kokkeler live with their two kids and extended family members on a 55-acre parcel of land on the east side of Fromberg—an area their family has called home for decades.

When the Clarks Fork River spilled its banks, Marci, who is expecting a child, had to act quickly to get the family to safety.

“I called to tell him I was just going to grab whatever I could and get out of the house,” Marci Kokkeler said. “Now we’re just trying to salvage what we can. [The water] was a foot in the house and four feet around the house.”

Many others in Fromberg share a similar story.

Mayor Nottingham and his daughter, Tina Foust, are running an around-the-clock volunteer station, helping clean up and rebuild the town.

Foust says part of that effort is delivering meals to people across Carbon County, from Fromberg to Belfry.

“They have been up to their waists in mud, muck, nastiness; their whole lives are basically gone,” Foust said.

Right now, Foust says the hub of assistance is at the Fromberg School where meals are being cooked, donations accepted, and the sorting and distributing process is underway.

“Looking at the human aspect of this loss, many of these people have lived in these homes their whole lives,” says Mayor Nottingham. “Now everything is going to change.”

For the Kokkeler family, they’re not looking back and are focused on what’s ahead. That includes gutting the damage out of their house, assessing and itemizing every object affected by flood waters, going back and forth with insurance agents, and trying to figure out what they’ll do with al the debris left by the flood.

Kurtis Kokkeler says the flood took out a corner of a hay field and the river is charting a new path bringing water closer to their home.

Surveying the damage, the couple describes losing family photos and decades of their possessions.

“We’ll build back, and we’ll build back better,” Kurtis Kokkeler said.

A family friend set-up a GoFundMe to help the Kokkeler family as they try to re-build their lives. You can find that fundraiser here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/pja55-flood-relief?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer [gofundme.com]

Nottingham and Foust say donations have been pouring into the community from around the world and are very appreciated. Still, more is needed to help the town on the long journey to recovery.