Yellowstone aims for rapid opening.  flooded cities are struggling

Yellowstone aims for rapid opening. flooded cities are struggling

GARDINER, Mont. (AP) – Most of Yellowstone National Park will reopen in the next two weeks – much faster than originally expected after record floods hit the Yellowstone area last week and overturned major roads, federal officials said. Sunday.

Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said the world-famous park will be able to accommodate fewer visitors at the moment and will take longer to repair road links with some southern Montana communities.

Park officials said Sunday they would use $ 50 million in federal highway money to speed up road and bridge repairs. There is still no schedule for repairs to the trails between the park and the Montana area where the recovery is expected to last for months.

Yellowstone will reopen in part at 8 a.m. Wednesday, more than a week after more than 10,000 visitors were forced to flee the park when Yellowstone and other rivers overflowed their banks after being blown away by melting snow and several inches. rainfall.

Only parts of the park that are accessible along the “southern loop” of its roads will initially open and access to the park’s scenic countryside will be for day hikers only.

Within two weeks, officials plan to open the northern loop as well, having previously stated that it would most likely remain closed during the summer season. The North Loop would give visitors access to popular attractions such as Tower Fall and Mammoth Hot Springs. They would still be excluded from the Lamar Valley, which is famous for its rich wildlife, such as bears, wolves and bison that are often seen from the side of the road.

“That would put 75 to 80 percent of the park back in operation,” National Park Service Director Charles “Chuck” Sams said Sunday during a visit to Yellowstone to assess the effects of the flood.

It will take much longer – possibly years – to fully repair two damaged sections of road connecting the park with Gardiner to the north and Cooke City to the northeast.

During a tour of the damaged area on Sunday, park officials showed reporters one of six sections of road near Gardiner, where raging floodwaters destroyed most of the roadway.

The muddy water is now flowing from where the road was just a week ago. Huge tree trunks fill the surrounding gorge.

With no chance of immediate repair, Cam Sholly Park Superintendent said 20,000 tonnes of material were being transported to build a temporary, alternative route along an old road that runs over the gorge. That would allow employees working at Mammoth Park headquarters to reach their Gardiner homes, Sholly said. The temporary route could also be used by commercial tour companies that have licenses to guide guided tours.

“We did a lot more than we thought we would do a week ago,” Sholly said. “It will be a summer of adjustments.”

Meanwhile, some of those most affected by the disaster – out of the limelight of the famous park – are leaning heavily on each other to make a living out of the mud.

In and around the Fromberg rural community, the Clarks Fork River flooded nearly 100 homes and caused severe damage to a large irrigation ditch that serves many farms. The city mayor says about a third of the flooded homes are too far to be repaired.

Not far from the river bank, Lindy O’Brien’s trailer house was raised high enough to avoid major damage. But she got water in her barns and sheds, lost some of her poultry and saw her recently deceased parents’ house flooded with many feet of water.

Elected officials appearing to tour the damage to Red Lodge and Gardiner – Montana’s tourist towns that serve as gateways to Yellowstone – have not arrived in Fromberg to witness the devastation. O’Brien said the lack of attention came as no surprise given the city’s location away from major tourist routes.

She is not outraged, but has given up on the idea that if Fromberg is to recover, its roughly 400 inhabitants will have to do much of the work themselves.

“We take care of each other,” O’Brien said as she and her two longtime friends, Melody Murter and Aileen Rogers, combed mud objects scattered around her property. O’Brien, an art teacher for the local school, had been building her parents’ house in hopes of turning it into a holiday rental. Now she is not sure she can be saved.

“When you’m tired and hurt, you’re not going to stop,” O’Brien told Murter and Rogers, whose clothes, hands and faces were muddy.

A few blocks away, Matt Holmes combed piles of mud and debris, but could find nothing to save from the trailer house he shared with his wife and four children.

Holmes had taken a break, but said he had to return to his construction job soon so he could start making money again. Whether it can bring enough to rebuild is unclear. If not, Holmes said he could move the family to Louisiana, where they have relatives.

“I want to stay in Montana. “I do not know if we can,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.