DAILY NEWS photo by Jeanette Johnson
Neighbors gathered in front of Todd and Patti Easton’s house in the 100 block of Robertson to survey the aftermath of the flood. Easton climbs on one of the many ice wedges that remained in the area to mockingly ask “Why?”
Flooding victims describe rising waters
By Jeanette Johnson
WORLAND – It’s the day everyone will remember. Some compared it to
Whatever the situation, Worland’s March 7, 2014 flood will go down in history.
And people had stories to tell, yards and houses to attend to, a resilience that defies odds, the best of humanity coming from near and far. A steady flow of traffic drove across the new river bridge, drivers and passengers craning their necks to see. Foot traffic, exiting from their cars lined up on either side of the bridge, made the trek to stare in wonder, take pictures with their cell phones, stopping to shake their heads and commiserate with volunteers and residents who returned temporarily.
People came in droves to help residents they didn’t even know, a disaster bringing out the best in all.
There was laughter. It appeared to be the best medicine as they know how bad it could have been but wasn’t. Residents and kids climbed on huge blocks of ice. Neighbors came from all directions to help move a truck surrounded by ice – two blocks from the river.
There was no time for tears, just sadness. There was thankfulness, knowing that loved ones were safe. A call came from Louisiana early Friday morning to make sure his sister was safe. There was no feeling of resignation or self-pity. People relied on humor and friends to get them through.
Pascual Alcaraz strolled the bridge, taking photos of the ice and his brother Ernie’s house at 100 Robertson. Pascual Alcaraz recalled arriving in Worland in ‘59, taking a trip to Texas and received a call from his brother saying the river was backed up to the railroad tracks.
“Back then, we went to the old auditorium,” he said, referring to Worland’s community hall on North 8th that burned down.
For Tom McDonald, the scene dredged up memories.
“First of all, this bridge wasn’t here,” he said.
He recalls the river used to be “blown up” all the time.
“It was a common experience to use dynamite, but this is an excessive amount of flooding,” he said.
Francisco Davila and his son, Jesus, saw the flood coming at 6 a.m.
“We saw the river, we saw big white things, they were big blocks of ice,” Francisco Davila said. The water was traveling fast. In 30 minutes, the street was like a river. “It was pretty bad, pretty bad.” By 2:30 p.m., they were sitting on the front porch, watching what was going on. They hooked up a pump to get water out of the crawl space. They were able to move their Cisco D trailer and other vehicles before leaving the area. And his prized ’72 Chevy.
Across the street, on the south side, despite a lone truck outside, Handford’s Sprinkler and Landscape appeared to be closed until Amy Handford emerged from the vehicle. Her mother notified her at 9:30 a.m.
“I ran down here to check, the street was blocked off, we weren’t allowed down the street,” she said. “I told the officer this is my business and I need to check it out.”
Once inside, everything was picked up off the floor so any water wouldn’t cause damage.
Her main concern wasn’t the flood. She was worried about the water coming from the drains in the streets.
“I saw it,” she exclaimed.
Gesturing to the bushes across the street, the water made it that far.
The bushes were on Mike and Marilyn Montoya’s property at Big Horn and South 2nd. They also saw the water coming from the drains while getting ready for work around 7:30 a.m. The knock on the door made it official: Evacuation was imminent. But the flood never crossed the highway so they didn’t have to leave. They watched the city graders pushing the water back toward the river.
Tony Hixon heard banging on his door at 6:50 a.m. “They said get out, the water’s coming,” he said. He grabbed a few things and left for several hours. They had to rescue their dog from across the street. His sister waded through knee-deep water to open the kennel to let the dogs out. He described the event as a major inconvenience, but it didn’t come into the house.
Watching it, the water looked like lava coming through, creeping in, he said.
Kershawn James’ Mazda pickup was pushed into the yard after the water receded. Ice was resting beside it. His dogs floated across the river. Somehow they wound up at the Humane Society who called and said the Springer spaniel and terrier were soaking wet and needed to be picked up.
Continued in today's issue of the DAILY NEWS. Subscribe here
DAILY NEWS photo by Jeanette Johnson
Francisco Davila, kneeling, and his son, Jesus, check on the progress of a pump in removing flood water from a crawl space. They were able to remove Mr. Cisco D’s trailer and several vehicles before evacuating the neighborhood.
Northern Wyoming Daily News
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