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Historic Absarokee homestead flooded, evacuated as river levels hit 11 feet

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 13, 2022

STILLWATER COUNTY — Residents are calling it a 100-year flood as the Stillwater River reached 11 feet Monday, flooding houses and forcing the evacuation of residents.

The Wilcox family has been ranching at their homestead near the confluence of the Rosebud and Stillwater rivers, north of Absarokee, since the 1860s.

Wanda Wilcox only remembers one flood feeling as significant as the one seen Monday.

"I think it was 1963," Wilcox said. "Our dad said 'come hell or high water, we have to get off this farm' and it was flooding, but not this bad."

Monday morning, Wanda and her extended family who call the homestead home were forced to evacuate as the rivers rose and flooded their homes.

"I was up at quarter to five. Something told me, I heard a roar and so I ran outside in my nightgown and told my husband, we've got to get moving," she said.

The family evacuated to higher land on their property where so far they feel safe. They also evacuated their horses who were belly deep in water, said 11-year-old Teigan Wilcox, Wanda's grandson.

"This morning when we all woke up, we just realized that the rivers were really high and then we evacuated and we went up to where the river wasn't in our house and just a little bit ago the river started to flood," Teigan said.

The Stillwater County Sheriff's Office has issued a boil notice for people in flood affected areas. Eleven roads and bridges have been closed due to flooding at the time of this publication.

On the Wilcox homestead, homes, corrals and other buildings have been damaged by flood waters. Wilcox and other residents in the area have heard reports of houses and cabins washing away down the river.

Standing with Teigan and his father, Ty Wilcox, on the new North Stillwater Road bridge, barrels, boards, and a deck washed down the river.

"It's a terrible feeling to lose everything," Wanda Wilcox said. "But we're okay. Lives are irreplaceable. Pictures, clothes, it doesn't matter. It's lives that matter."