Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office declared Montana a disaster Tuesday as historic milk-chocolate flood waters roared eastward down the Yellowstone River system after devastating the northern regions of Yellowstone National Park and nearby communities along the Absaroka and Beartooth fronts.
Gianforte’s declaration came after surging waters spread over banks at unprecedented highs into the communities of Red Lodge, Nye, Fishtail, Absarokee, Joliet and Livingston. By Tuesday afternoon, floodwaters in those regions had begun to recede, leaving destroyed homes, roads and bridges as well as rockslides and mudslides that stranded residents and tourists in Gardiner, Cooke City and Silver Gate.
“It is just the scariest river ever,” Kate Gomez of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told The Associated Press. “Anything that falls into that river is gone. The swells are huge and it’s just mud and silt.”
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Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly announced that the world’s first national park would be closed for at least five more days as staff assessed damage. Celebrating its 150th anniversary and at the peak of tourist season, Yellowstone is shut down for only the third time in 34 years — most recently in 2020 due