FROMBERG, Mont. ( Associated Press) — As officials race to reopen Yellowstone National Park to tourists this week after record flooding in southern Montana, some of those hardest-hit by the disaster remain away from home. The park’s spotlight and are heavily dependent on each other to get their lives out of the mud.
In and around the farming community of Fromberg, the Clarks Fork River flooded about 100 homes and severely damaged a major irrigation canal serving several farms. The city’s mayor said about a third of the flooded homes caused total damage.
Not far from the basin, Lindy O’Brien’s mobile home was high enough to prevent further damage. But as water entered his barn and shed, he lost some chickens and saw his recently deceased parents’ house submerged several inches in water.
Elected officials visiting the affected area in the Red Lodge and Gardiner, Montana resort towns that serve as the gateway to Yellowstone, haven’t made it to Frommberg to see the devastation. O’Brien said the lack of attention isn’t surprising, given that the city is off the main tourist route.
He said he is not offended, but has resigned to the idea that if Frommberg is to be fixed, its roughly 400 residents will have to do a lot of the work themselves.
“We take care of each other,” O’Brien said as he and his two old friends, Melody Merter and Eileen Rogers, discover the dirty remains of their property. O’Brien, an art teacher at a local school, was fixing it in hopes of converting his parents’ house into a vacation rental. Now she’s not sure she can salvage anything.