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Rancher uses excavator to help with flood repairs in Roberts

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 10:38:05-04

One man in Carbon County has been able to get away from his ranch to flooded repair areas along Rock Creek.

He’s using his skills with heavy equipment to do what he can to save homes and property.

"Everybody else is helping out in Red Lodge doing sandbags and doing their part," said Charley Waples, a rancher in Fox. "This is where I think I'm the most valuable. I can jump on a machine and do some dirt work."

Waples has been using an excavator, to move river rock that washed up onto a property in Roberts.

He said each shovel-full weighs about 8000 to 9000 pounds.

He's been helping along Rock Creek between Red Lodge and Roberts since the beginning.

"This is normal high water for Rock Creek," Waples said about the flow of water on Saturday. "There was three times this amount of water on the 13th of June."

He talked about an area where the creek had been diverted and eroded some land.

"So all we did is put it back on track," he sad.

The flooding on this land forced a family out of its home.

"This is the biggest high water event I've ever seen," Waples said.

He showed a big tree that had been in the river and diverted water to a driveway and home.

"They can't even get in to their house right now," Waples said.

Waples says the homeowners had been trying to move the rocks by hand.

His family used to own a piece of land in Roberts and now it belongs to someone in the Amish community and Roberts.

"They've been helping the community and we do our part to help them back a little bit," Waples said.

That community bond is what Waples has seen with the cleanup and says he is able to help because RDO and John Deere in Billings supplied the heavy equipment.

And he says that all goes along with helping neighbors.

"I think all the communities have rallied and kind of after 911 the whole country rallied," Waples said. "So we just need to get that whole sense of sense the community back in the United States of America we'll be a lot better place again."

Waples says some of the silt from the creek will fill in the space around the rocks when the water level goes down.

He also says, more repairs to the banks will be done during lower levels.