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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Floods left Yellowstone landscape ‘changed dramatically’

The forces of fire and ice shaped Yellowstone National Park over thousands of years. It took decades for humans to tame it enough for tourists to travel in the comfort of their cars.

Within days, heavy rain and heavy snowfall caused a dramatic flood that could forever change the human footprint on the park’s area and its surrounding communities.

Historic floodwaters raged through Yellowstone this week, tearing down bridges and pouring into nearby homes, shutting down a popular fishing river – possibly permanently – and prompting new locations to rebuild. It can force roadways almost torn by the water’s edge.

“The landscape has changed dramatically, literally and figuratively, in the past 36 hours,” said Bill Berg, a commissioner for nearby Park County. “Slightly ironic is that this spectacular landscape was created by violent geologic and hydrological events, and it’s not very easy when it happens when we’ve all settled here.”

Unprecedented flooding forced more than 10,000 visitors out of the country’s oldest national park and damaged hundreds of homes in nearby communities, though notably no one was injured or killed. The only visitors left in the sprawling park spanning three states were a dozen campers still venturing out into the backcountry.

The park could remain closed for up to a week, and the north entrance may not reopen this summer, Superintendent Cam Sholey said.

“I’ve heard it’s a 1,000-year event, whatever that means these days. It seems to be happening more and more often,” he said.

Rain and heavy snow wreaked havoc in parts of southern Montana and northern Wyoming, where it swept cabins, swallowed small towns and knocked out power. This hit the park as the summer tourist season drew millions of visitors during its 150th anniversary year.

Berg said hard-hit Gardiner’s businesses were actually recovering from the tourism contraction brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and was hoping for a good year.

“It’s a Yellowstone city, and it lives and dies by tourism, and it’s going to be a huge hit,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out how to put things together.”

A pedestrian walks through Gardiner, Montana, which relies heavily on tourism for its economy as it sits at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park on June 15, 2022.

Some of the worst damage occurred in the northern part of the park and the entrance communities of Yellowstone in southern Montana. Photos from the National Park Service of North Yellowstone show a mudslide, washed-out bridges and roads churning out floodwaters from the Gardner and Lamar Rivers.

At Red Lodge, a town of 2,100 that is a popular jumping-off point for a scenic route in the Yellowstone High Country, a creek running through the town jumped from its banks and crossed the main thoroughfare, creating a The day later, the trout were swimming in the sun. Sky

Residents described a harrowing scene where water moved from torrent to torrent within hours.

Water knocked down telephone poles, demolished enclosures and dug deep cracks in the ground around hundreds of homes.

A House Pulled Into Rock Creek In Red Lodge, Mont., Is Seen By Floodwaters On June 14, 2022.

A house pulled into Rock Creek in Red Lodge, Mont., is seen by floodwaters on June 14, 2022.

Electricity was restored till Tuesday, but water was still not running in the affected locality.

Heidi Hoffman was out in Billings early Monday to buy a sump pump, but by the time she returned, her basement was full of water.

“We lost all our stuff in the basement,” said Hoffman as the pump drove a steady stream of water into his muddy backyard. “Yearbooks, pictures, clothes, furniture. We’re going to be cleaning up for a long time.”
At least 200 homes were flooded in Red Lodge and the city of Fromberg.

Persistent droughts led to an increase in fire frequency and intensity as a heat wave on the Midwest and East Coast and floods in other parts of the West as burns from the early wildfire season.

Heavy rain over melting mountain snow pushed the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Clarks Fork rivers to record levels on Monday and triggered rock and mudslides, according to the National Weather Service. The Yellowstone River in Corwin Springs topped a record set in 1918.

The northern roads of Yellowstone may remain impassable for a long time. Flooding also affected the rest of the park, with park officials warning of yet high flooding and potential problems with water supply and wastewater systems in developed areas.

In recent weeks, rains lashed hotels in the area with summer tourists. Last year the park attracted more than 4 million visitors. June is typically one of Yellowstone’s busiest months.

Rocky Mountain Rotors owner and chief pilot Mark Taylor said his company had airlifted about 40 paying customers from Gardiner over the past two days, including two women who were “very pregnant.”

Taylor talked when he ferry a family of four adults who wanted to do some more sightseeing before heading home to Texas.

“I think they’re going to rent a car, and they’re going to check out some other parts of Montana — somewhere drier,” he said.

Residents Walk Along The Elevated Yellowstone River In Gardiner, Montana, Which Sits At The Entrance To Yellowstone National Park, June 15, 2022.

Residents walk along the elevated Yellowstone River in Gardiner, Montana, which sits at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, June 15, 2022.

In south-central Montana, 68 people were rescued by the fleet at a campground after a flood on the Stillwater River. Some roads in the area were closed and residents were evacuated.

In the village of Nye, at least four cabins were washed away in the Stillwater River, said Shelley Blazina, one of which she owned.

“It was my sanctuary,” she said Tuesday. “Yesterday, I was in shock. Today, I’m just in deep sadness.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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