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Yellowstone flood victim says outlook is bleak to save his property after raging river took his house

"I’m really losing hope"
Posted at 9:06 AM, Dec 05, 2022

PARK CITY - Several months ago, Q2 introduced you to Mike Kinsey after his house was washed away in the 500-year floods in June.

A video he shot of his house breaking apart and being pulled into the water went viral worldwide.

Life changed, maybe forever, for 73-year-old Kinsey that day.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m really losing hope,” he said.

RELATED: 'Breaks my heart': Park City veteran's home washes away in Yellowstone River

Several months later, he now fears he will lose his property, crushed under a wave of debt.

“Everyone that knows me thought I was the luckiest person in the world to live here on the river like I did, myself included,” he said.

He’s a disabled veteran and is currently retired.

“I really don’t want to lose this place. I’ve lived here since 1977. I built that house out of telephone pole rejects,” Kinsey said.

He’s spent the last few months buried in grief, paperwork, and debt.

He says he owes $250,000 on the house, having refinanced it in 2016 to build up the bank to protect the house from the Yellowstone River.

“I should have had a quarter of a million in flood insurance, which I don’t,” Kinsey said.

His homeowner's policy has, to date, denied all of his claims.

“My mortgage company finally put me in forbearance which means my payments are stacking up,” he said.

He said there’s one company that hasn’t come to collect.

With water rising, Kinsey said Donnes Construction hauled truck after truck full of rock to Kinsey’s place.

“And put another 100 ton of rock in here which I have not paid for, so I don’t even know what I owe Donnes construction for trying to save my house,” he said.

Like many people who were flooded, Kinsey didn’t have flood insurance.

“In 1995, for some unbeknownst reason, they changed the floodplain and moved my house out of the emergency flood plain so, when my house was refinanced the outfit that I financed with didn’t have to have flood insurance on here so I didn’t have it and I didn’t know that until the morning that my house went in the flood and called my agent and … anyway…no flood insurance,” he said.

(Editor's note: Kinsey later clarified that his home was taken out of the flood plain in 2015, not 1995.)

A letter he received after he lost the house stated the house was in the flood plain and needed to be insured.

“They want me to put insurance on this house that I no longer own and they want me to raise it two feet above the flood plain,” Kinsey said.

With $37,000 from FEMA, Kinsey says they’re trying to make it through the winter and as long as they can.

He said he would try to rebuild on the property if his financial situation got sorted out.

But he knows he may lose even more. A single photo from his military days is the only one left.

“I can’t even make an educated guess on what the hell I’m gonna do, to be honest with ya, because I just don’t know,” he said.