12:38 PM PDT, June 17, 2022
A Montana couple who rushed to escape the historic flooding that has consumed parts of Yellowstone National Park watched from high ground as waters swallowed their entire home.
TJ and Victoria Britton told Inside Edition they woke to a knock at the door of their Gardiner home about 6:30 a.m. Monday. When they answered their door, their neighbors told them the bar they built out of driftwood at the edge of the riverbank was gone.
“A lot of the land was gone and as we were watching it, more pieces just kept falling off,” Victoria said.
“And then we knew … we need to leave now we need to evacuate.”
The couple grabbed a few belongings and their pets, unaware that it would be the last time they would be in their home. They also managed to grab belongings from the home of their neighbors who were out of town. “I was able to get a filing cabinet, a safe and a jewelry box,” TJ said.
Then, all they could was watch as their house collapsed and was swallowed by the rushing waters of Yellowstone River.
“We watched that all day, probably eight hours, 10 hours,” TJ said.
Wedding photos, wedding rings, social security cards, car titles and property information were all also lost in the flood.
“My kids were born when I didn’t have cell phones or digital anything. And I had picture albums when they were young and when I moved to Yellowstone and all the trips I took out here and my job on trail crew with the park service was all on developed film,” TJ said.
The river, which flows through Yellowstone National Park, saw historic water levels after days of rain and large snowmelt. Thousands of people were evacuated from the area and authorities said there is no estimated date for the park to reopen. About 2 million people visit the park every summer.
As of Friday, a GoFundMe campaign created by Victoria’s brother to help the family had raised $15,360 raised of its $25,000 goal. The money will help Victoria and TJ get back on their feet, her brother wrote.
“Seeing everything, seeing the house go … and then just knowing, seeing bits and pieces of literally at our entire lives floating down the river. There’s kind of no words for it,” Victoria told Inside Edition. “It’s overwhelming … shocking. You don’t know how to feel. You don’t know how to process it immediately.”