Red Lodge 'not open for business': Emergency managers urge travelers to stay away, look to clean up and rebuild

AJ Etherington

The message was clear during a Red Lodge community meeting Tuesday night: The events of the previous few days were a “nightmare” and the town faces a long recovery.

In the high school gymnasium, Red Lodge fire chief and emergency incident commander Tom Kuntz guided the shocked and weary-eyed community through what happened to cause the usually tepid mountain stream of Rock Creek to turn into a raging river that washed away homes, roads and bridges in minutes.

“What a difference a year makes,” Kuntz told the crowd with a nervous chuckle. “I think you could have walked across Rock Creek last year at this time without getting your feet wet.”

Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz speaks during a press conference regarding flooding in Red Lodge and the region.

AMY LYNN NELSON BILLINGS GAZETTE

The juxtaposition of the community’s woes from just a year ago was stark. At around this time in 2021, Kuntz was managing the state’s largest wildfire, the Robertson Draw fire in the mountains south of town. Now he was trying to coordinate

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