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Patty Castleberry's home on North River Road

Patty Castleberry's home on North River Road near Laurel is surrounded by oily flood water on Saturday afternoon.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

Patty and Bob Castleberry already had a major disaster on their hands with their house on the banks of the Yellowstone River surrounded by water.

Then early Saturday, at about 12:30 a.m., the couple, who lives on North River Road on the south side of the Yellowstone near Laurel, awoke to a strong smell of crude oil.

"Bob is retired from Cenex, so he knew right away what that smell was and what had happened," Patty said early Saturday evening. "Bob took the spotlight out and we looked across the river and it was black with crude oil."

Now there are pools of oil all around the house, Patty said, and the oil also is underneath the house.

This is the third time since May that the Castleberrys have had to deal with flooding at the home they've owned for 13 years. The first two times, they were able to go back to the house.

Then, about five days ago, the river came up again and surrounded the house. The couple was able to use a boat to evacuate the registered boar goats they raise.

But Patty and Bob remained at the house, with the electricity on and enough food to get by. Only their water system wasn't working.

They were told that the river had crested and the water should start going down, Patty said. But the oil spill happened, and then the water started rising even higher.

It eroded some of the ground nearest the river, she said, and knocked down a large tree that's not far from the house.

"Bob said 'Patty, we've got to go,' " she said.

With help from the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office, the couple is evacuating. Patty said they will stay at a hotel until they figure out what to do next.

The only good piece of news is the house has flood insurance, Patty said.