A visitor to Indiana captured dramatic video of a waterfront home in Montana being washed away in a river as a torrent of rain combined with a rapidly melting snowpack caused a.
At a cabin in Gardiner, Parker Manning got a close view of the rising waters and the riverbank spilling into the floodwaters of the Yellowstone River right outside his door.
On Monday evening, Manning watched the rushing waters undermine the opposite bank, causing a house to fall into the Yellowstone River and float almost intact.
“We started seeing whole trees floating in the river, debris,” Manning told The Associated Press. “I saw only one crazy kayaker going by which was a bit crazy.”
The Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs peaked at 13.88 feet on Monday, higher than the previous record of 11.5 feet set in 1918, according to the National Weather Service.
Flooding triggered evacuations, knocked out power and forced Yellowstone officials to close all entrances indefinitely as the summer tourist season intensified.
Although many houses and other structures were destroyed, no injuries were immediately reported. Yellowstone officials said they were assessing damage from the storms, which washed away bridges, caused mudslides and left small towns isolated, forcing evacuations by boat and helicopter.
It is unclear how many visitors are stranded or have been forced out of the park and how many residents outside the park have been rescued and evacuated.
Some of the worst damage occurred in the northern part of the park and in the entrance communities of Yellowstone in southern Montana. National Park Service photos of northern Yellowstone showed a landslide, washed-out bridges and roads undermined by floodwaters from the Gardner and Lamar rivers.
The flooding cut off road access to Gardiner, a town of about 900 people located near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardner rivers, just outside Yellowstone’s busy north entrance. Cooke City was also cut off by floodwaters, and evacuations were also issued for residents of Livingston.
Officials in Park County, which encompasses those towns, said on Facebook late Monday that extensive flooding across the county also made drinking water unsafe in many areas. Evacuations and rescues were underway and officials urged those in a safe location to stay put overnight.
The Montana National Guard said Monday it sent two helicopters to southern Montana to help with evacuations.
Cory Mottice, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings, Montana, said rain was not expected immediately and cooler temperatures would reduce snowmelt in the coming days.
“It’s a flood we’ve never seen in our lifetimes before,” Mottice said.
Floodwaters inundated a street in Red Lodge, a Montana town of 2,100 that’s a popular starting point for a scenic, winding drive through the Yellowstone High Country. Twenty-five miles northeast, in Joliet, Kristan Apodaca wiped away tears as she stood in front of a washed-out bridge, The Billings Gazette reported.
The log cabin that belonged to her grandmother, who died in March, was flooded, as was the park where Apodaca’s husband proposed.
“I’m sixth generation. This is our home,” she said. “That bridge I literally drove yesterday. My mom drove it at 3 a.m. before it was swept away.”
On Monday, Yellowstone officials evacuated the northern part of the park, where roads could remain impassable for a long time, park superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement.
But the floods have also affected the rest of the park, with park officials warning of even greater flooding and potential problems with water supplies and sewage systems in developed areas.
The rains hit during the peak tourist season. June, at the start of an annual surge of over 3 million visitors that only abates in the fall, is one of Yellowstone’s busiest months.
Yellowstone received 2.5 inches of rain Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone got up to 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
In south-central Montana, flooding from the Stillwater River stranded 68 people in a campground. Stillwater County Emergency Services agencies and crews from the Stillwater mine rescued people from the Woodbine Campground by raft on Monday. Some roads in the area are closed due to flooding and residents have been evacuated.
“We will assess the loss of homes and structures as the waters recede,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.