Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Towns Near Yellowstone Fear Impact Of Lost Tourism Season

A nagging uncertainty hung over the Yellowstone National Park port town of Gardiner this week after unprecedented flooding that shut down one of America’s most beloved natural attractions and swept away roads, bridges and homes.

Gardiner himself escaped the floods, but for a short time became the home of hundreds of park visitors who were stranded when the road leading to them was closed along the flowing Yellowstone River. When the road reopened, the tourists disappeared.

“The town is now ominous,” says Katie Gale, who is booking for a company that offers rafting and other outdoor trips. “We had all those people trapped here, and when they opened the road, it was just like someone pulled the plug in a bathtub.”

Katie Gale And Her Dog, Rory, Are Waiting For Customers At Paradise Adventure Company Sitting Across From The Entrance To Yellowstone National Park, A Major Tourist Attraction Now Closed Due To The Historic Floodwaters, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, In Gardiner, Mont .  .

Katie Gale and her dog, Rory, are waiting for customers at Paradise Adventure Company sitting across from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, a major tourist attraction now closed due to the historic floodwaters, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Gardiner, Mont . .

The drainage of visitors has become a major concern for businesses in towns such as Gardiner and Red Lodge that lead to Yellowstone’s northern entrances and rely on tourists passing through.

Officials said the park’s southern part, which contains Old Faithful, could reopen as soon as next week. But the northern tip, which includes Tower Fall and the bears and wolves of Lamar Valley, could remain closed for months after parts of major roads within Yellowstone were washed away or buried in rockfall. Roads leading to the park also have widespread damage that can take months to repair.

Red Lodge faces a double disaster: He will have to clean up the damage caused by the flood to parts of the town and also have to figure out how to survive without the summer business that normally sustains it for the rest of the year.

The Main Entrance To The Sibanye-Stillwater Mine Was Cut Off After The Road Was Washed Away On June 16, 2022 By Rising Floodwaters In Nye, Mont.

The main entrance to the Sibanye-Stillwater mine was cut off after the road was washed away on June 16, 2022 by rising floodwaters in Nye, Mont.

“Winters are tough in Red Lodge,” Chris Prindiville said as he rinsed mud off the sidewalk outside his shutter cafe, which had no fresh water or gas for its stoves. “You have to make your money in the summer so you can make it when the bills keep coming and the visitors have stopped.”

Yellowstone is one of the crown jewels of the park system, a popular summer playground that appeals to adventurous backpackers camping in grizzly land, comfortable hikers walking past steamy geothermal features, nature lovers migrating from their safety to elk, bison, bears and wolves look. cars, and amateur photographers and artists trying to capture the pink and gold shades of the cliffs of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon and its thundering waterfall.

All 4 million visitors a year must pass through the small towns bordering the park’s five entrances.

The floods – caused by a combination of torrential rain and rapid snowmelt – hit just as hotels around Yellowstone became crowded with summer tourists. June is typically one of Yellowstone’s busiest months.

An Ad Hoc &Quot;Bucket Brigade&Quot; Of Volunteer Cleaners Walking Down A Street In Red Lodge, Mont.  While Going To A Flood-Damaged House On June 16, 2022 To Remove Mud And Water From His Basement.

An ad hoc “bucket brigade” of volunteer cleaners walks down a street in Red Lodge, Mont. while going to a flood-damaged house on June 16, 2022 to remove mud and water from his basement.

At least 88 people have been rescued from campsites and small towns by the Montana National Guard in the past few days, and hundreds of homes, including nearly 150 in Red Lodge, have been damaged by muddy water. One large house in Gardiner, which was home to six park workers, was ripped from its foundation and driven miles downstream before sinking. Four to five homes could still collapse in the Stillwater River, which has already washed away several huts, according to a Stillwater County spokesman.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Red Lodge remained under boiling water advice, and trucks provided drinking water to half of the town that was without it. Portable toilets were strategically placed for those who could not flush at home.

The Yodeler Motel, once home to Finnish coal miners, has faced its first closure since it began operating as a lodge in 1964. Owner Mac Dean said he was going to have to dam the lower level, where 13 rooms were flooded in chest-high waters.

Roadside Floodwaters Flow Past Parts Of North Entrance Road That Were Washed Away On June 16, 2022 At Yellowstone National Park In Gardiner, Mont.

Roadside floodwaters flow past parts of North Entrance Road that were washed away on June 16, 2022 at Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Mont.

“Rock Creek has apparently taken its own course,” he said. “It just jumped ashore and it came right down Main Street and it hit us.”

Dean was counting on a busy summer related to the park’s 150th anniversary. The Yodeler has had the most discussions in the 13 years that Dean and his wife have owned the business. Now he hopes to get help, possibly from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The damage is catastrophic,” he said. “We’re between a rock and a hard place. And if we do not get assistance, we are not going to make it.”

President Joe Biden has declared a disaster in Montana and ordered that federal aid be made available.

The tourism season started well for Cara McGary, who leads groups through the Lamar Valley to see wolves, bison, elk and bears. She has seen more than 20 grizzlies some days this year.

Now, with the road from Gardiner to northern Yellowstone washed out, the wildlife is still there, but it’s out of reach of McGary. Her guide business, In Our Nature, is suddenly in trouble.

“The summer we have prepared for is not at all similar to the summer we are going to have,” she said. “It’s an 80% to 100% loss of business during the high season.”

Officials and business leaders hope Gardiner, Red Lodge and other small communities can attract visitors even without access to the park.

A House Sits In Rock Creek After Floodwaters Washed Away A Road And A Bridge In Red Lodge, Mont., June 15, 2022.

A house sits in Rock Creek after floodwaters washed away a road and a bridge in Red Lodge, Mont., June 15, 2022.

Sarah Ondrus, owner of Paradise Adventure Company, which rents out cabins and offers rafting, kayaking and horseback riding, was frustrated that she got so many cancellations.

“Montana and Wyoming still exist. I do not know how to convince these people,” Ondrus said. “Once our water quality is good and our law enforcement thinks it’s OK, we’re good to go again. It’s still a destination. You can still ride horses, go to cowboy hotspots, walk in the national forest.”

This can be a big order for anyone coming from the south or east side of the park who was hoping to head out into the north. After reopening the southern portion of the park, it would take a nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers) detour through West Yellowstone and Bozeman to reach Gardiner. It will require a nearly 300 miles (480 kilometers) ride from Cody, Wyoming.

Greg Gianforte, governor of Montana, a Republican, has faced criticism from Democrats and members of the public for being out of the country during the disaster.

Spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke said the governor left on a long-scheduled personal trip with his wife last week and would be back Thursday. She would not say where he was, citing security reasons.

In his absence, Montana’s lt.-goew. Kristen Juras signed an emergency statement on Tuesday.

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

Nation World News Desk
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