In 30 Minutes, Flood Took Century of History From Sheridan Family
In just 30 minutes, flood waters stole a century of history from a Sheridan family Tuesday afternoon.
The Dykhorst family in Sheridan had photos dating back to the late 1800s in their basement when flood waters rapidly flowed in, Michael Dykhorst said.
Dykhorst's dad moved to the U.S. from South Africa in 1962. He brought family photographs with him that are probably gone now.
He arrived home from work and initially helped his neighbors move items from their basement as nearby Big Goose Creek continued to swell out of its banks. The Dyhkorsts had a sump keeping their basement from filling with water. Then the tubing "just snapped."
That's when water started filling their basement. It only took 30 minutes for everything to be completely submerged.
"There was stuff we couldn't grab," Dykhorst said.
When the Dykhorsts left to spend the night in a hotel room — Dykhorst, his mother and father occupy the basement and Dykhorst's grandmother lives in the upstairs portion of the home — Dykhorst realized he'd left his passport downstairs. He couldn't leave it behind.
Wading through water up to his neck, Dykhorst saw a picture dating back to roughly 1905. In it are his great-great-grandmother and other ancestors. It had a great deal of water damage. He doesn't know if it will survive, but there's always hope.
When he left his home Wednesday evening, there was still 4 1/2 feet of water in the basement. Down there in the water are photos of his family dating back to the 1800s.
"That's the stuff that means something," Dykhorst said. "You can replace furniture. You can replace clothes."
Dykhorst doesn't remember what all he could salvage from the basement as it filled with water. He remembers cutting his hand moving something up the stairs — he doesn't recall what — and needing five minutes to put a bandage on.
When he went back down, the water was already above his knees.
The Dykhorsts were just one family battling the flooding in Sheridan County.
Ask Sheridan County Emergency Management Coordinator Bruce Edwards who said he learned a valuable lesson from this week's flooding.
"I learned exactly how fast people can go through dump trucks of sand filling sandbags," Edwards said.
Most of Sheridan County remains under a flood warning as of Wednesday evening. That warning was set to expire, but the National Weather Service in Billings extended it another 24 hours through 12:30 Thursday, though area rivers and creeks are receding.
"We're going to get some runoff," Edwards said Wednesday afternoon. "Creeks are still out of their banks. Sandbagging will continue. Whether it's at the pace we saw yesterday — I don't know. I can't answer that question."
Edwards said six large dump trucks delivered sand to the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Tuesday evening with the last two loads being delivered at 4:45 p.m.
It only took two hours for it to go. Edwards was floored.
Fortunately, Edwards said, a local sand and gravel company donated four more dump truck loads of sand and delivered it to the fairgrounds.
This week's flooding took Edwards back to growing up during the 1960s in the northeastern Wyoming community. He remembers times from those days when the water was as high or higher than it was Tuesday.
Edwards said local firefighters helped extract an elderly couple from their home yesterday.
The American Red Cross reported that it's assisting an area family that was displaced in the flooding.
Photos and videos of the flooding were shared throughout social media.
One Facebook user wrote that her parents' basement was completely filled with water. Photos posted to the platform showed swollen creeks and partially submerged vehicles.
But it also was a chance for a community in Wyoming to exemplify why people live in the Cowboy State. Several area residents have offered to help each other out however they can. One rancher offered his land for temporary trailer storage until the waters recede.
Dykhorst saw it, too. His bosses at Killy's Spirits & Ale pitched in to put his family up in a hotel room for a few nights.
Shortly after leaving their home behind Tuesday night, the Dykorsts were eating dinner at a restaurant. A total stranger picked up their tab.
A GoFundMe page established for the Dykhorst family has raised $1,135 as of 8:30 Wednesday evening. Insurance will not cover the flood damage. Dykhorst said setting up the account was foreign. He's been on the giving end before, but never the asking side.
National Weather Service river gauges showed water levels steadily declining in the area.
Though the flood warning is expected to be lifted Thursday afternoon, area residents are urged to remain vigilant as warmer temperatures could bring more runoff from snow melt.