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Livingston couple thanks volunteers for helping their business after flooding

Chris and Julie Benden recovering with neighbors' help
Julie Benden.jpg
Chris Benden.jpg
Posted at 12:39 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 14:39:55-04

Business owners in Park County are giving thanks to volunteers for helping them get ready for re-opening after the Yellowstone River flooded most of their properties.

Chris and Julie Benden waded through freezing water to survey the damage done to their nearly 10-acre property.

Two rental homes near the back could not be reached due to the mud, debris and water, a daycare center that was in deep water, and a firework stand with $25,000 of ruined product welcomed the Bendens on their return home on June 14.

“You’re so hopeless and there’s nothing you can do, nothing,” Chris Benden says. “We had like a 10-acre lake down here and you can’t do anything until the water’s gone, and then you have to start.”

The Benden’s got to work, hauling mud, dirt and product out of the buildings. The building that was used for daycare had sopping wet drywall and ruined carpet. However, that carpet was set on top of concrete so the base material was relatively easy to clean, and the drywall actually soaked a good amount of the water up.

“It’s a settler's mentality, whether it’s cold or water or things, people live here because they’re hardy,” Benden said. “Whether it’s flooding, or wildlife, you just move on because it’s part of the give and take of living in a rural area.”

Arguably, a vital pillar of rural living is helping a neighbor, and that is what Chris and Julie have found so uplifting about such a devastating flood.

“People just set things aside,” Benden said. “It’s really touching.”

One of those people that set their lives and problems aside to help the Bendens' property is David Nash, who made the trek out to the rental property with a plumber and electricians, hauled bags of garbage out of the daycare, and loaded up the truck with debris.

“It’s just amazing how everyone comes together, puts their differences aside and works on getting the task done with at hand,” Nash said.

Although he’s not the only volunteer helping clean up the property, he has been dubbed by Julie as "Mr. Livingston" for all of the work he has done.

“I just felt like it was my duty as a part of the community, I had some free time and I wanted to use that in a good way,” Nash said.

All of the help that the volunteers and the Bendens did over the past week leaves them hopeful to open their firework stand.

“Firework stand will open Friday, we have our suppliers who are bringing in more product and everything will be business as usual,” Benden said.

New product has been brought up from Wyoming for the stand, and the business opened on Friday, June 24.