Thursday, June 23, 2022

Yellowstone reopens, towns assess damage, massive clean-up begins

The approach to the Tetons can once again be enjoyed from the southern part of Yellowstone
National Park.  Three of the five entrances have been reopened, offering many familiar sights.

Removing interior wall finish to allow for drying and prevent
mold, contractor-engineer Bruce Keller helps neighbors to dry out
out and prepare their flooded guest house for remodeling.



Essential in any flood repair is to dry out the
affected areas, removing wet materials and
spraying with bleach or Mildewcide.
 MORE THAN a week after catastrophic floods changed the course of Montana rivers, destroyed hundreds of homes, washed away bridges and closed Yellowstone National Park, massive repair is underway. 

Flooded homes are being dried out, soaked bedding, furniture, appliances, discarded. Dumps and landfills are open extra hours. The state is forever changed. East and West Rosebud Rivers have cut new channels, Rock Creek and the floods around Red Lodge have put a huge dent in summer tourism. Other tourist towns are hurting. Cooke City, Silvergate and Gardiner which rely on tourism are lamenting the loss of rafting and hiking customers. Owners of restaurants and shops depend on the summer season of selling their wares -- food, souvenirs, equipment, snacks and beverages -- to carry them through the long winter's expenses.

Residents of Stillwater County in the Nye area must use
Grove Creek Road in the country, to get to Absarokee from
the road's entrance above Fishtail, adding a long wait.
A pilot car and stop light monitor traffic flow.

'WE'RE STILL contending with the financial effects of COVID, which shut us down two years ago," a Red Lodge restaurant owner told me.  She said, "Now this. It's going to be a sparse summer and a rough winter." 
 The pandemic hurt Yellowstone two years ago, reducing the park’s June 2020 tourist visits by one-third before the park rebounded later that summer, then had a decent 2021 season.
IN OUR NECK of the woods in Stillwater County, it took me 90 minutes to get from our place on the West Fork of the Stillwater River to grocery shopping in Absarokee, a normal half-hour drive. That's because of a detour along Grove Creek Road above Fishtail until the bridge ut of Absarokee over the 419 Highway to Dean can be rebuilt and that road reopened.
Rock Creek flooded Red Lodge streets. The historic
Yodeler Motel, far left, was virtually destroyed. 

historic hotel, the Yodeler Motel, left, was badly
WHEN YELLOWSTONE reopened on Wednesday, officials warned that major park roads and bridges are still washed out. But three of the nation's oldest and first park's five entrances opened, to cheers from hundreds of tourists whose cars lined up more than two miles long.
THOSE WHO could afford to wait out the flood, and extend their travel plans, holed up in nearby towns to await the reopening. Many hotels and motels in Cody, Wyo., West Yellowstone, Livingston, Big Sky and Bozeman were full with "no vacancy" signs.
We met a couple from Maine who got the jump on the flooding and were among the first of 10,000 people evacuated from Yellowstone to find lodging. Last Sunday afternoon, they booked five nights at Sawtelle Lodge in Idaho, 17 miles west of the park and were grateful to find lodging. Their reservations at Old Faithful Lodge were extended to this week.
The Roosevelt Arch. the ceremonial entrance to
Yellowstone National Park, is at the north
entrance, now closed. Last fall, Bruce Keller
and Christene "Cookie" Meyers made an annual
pilgrimage. The town of Gardiner is hurting now.

to the amount of water in Montana and parts of Idaho and Wyoming; in a three-day period last week, Yellowstone received two to three times the typical rainfall for the month of June. Precipitation has already been more than 400 per cent above average across northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana, according to the National Weather Service.
Lake Hotel is open again, and there are vacancies;
prepare to pay around $397 per night -- book soon.

FRIENDS ON their way to see us from California reported a new "even-odd" number park entry system that seems to be working well.
 Cars with license plates ending in even numbers can enter the park on even days. Odd-numbered license plates allow odd-day entry, so they were able to enter Thursday. 
Yellowstone National Park will partially reopen Wednesday after historic floods
Here's why
the park is
still partly
Roads in the park were damaged, making travel unsafe, so many reservations were cancelled -- some booked for months or a year. Ironically, it is now possible to find rooms -- amazingly.  As more roads open in July, the hotels and campgrounds will likely be fully booked again. but the brief closing and ensuing cancellations opened some space.
OUTSIDE THE PARK, in towns such as Livingston, Red Lodge and Fromberg (where the raging Clarks Fork flood damaged 100 homes), brimming rivers and streams that run through the towns has caused record damage that continues to be assessed. Another friend's parents' home in Livingston has two feet  
In work clothes and tired, Bruce Keller and
 Christene "Cookie" Meyers pause after helping
neighbors remove furniture and debris in
preparation for redoing a beautiful guest house on
the Stillwater River, which produced record water.
of water in the basement, sheds, garage and out buildings are flooded, and gardens buried under mud and silt. The home itself is still dry.

Superintendent Cam Sholly said that the two northernmost entrances -- North and Northeast -- will remained closed: Gardiner/Mammoth and Cooke City/Silvergate. That's the park's bird-and- wildlife-rich section where considerable road and bridge damage was done.  Park rangers stressed that many of the premier attractions are again viewable, including the legendary geyser Old Faithful, the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone and several hot pot areas. Already, the surge in sightseers has helped the local recreation industry bounce back.

One World Trade Center, also known as 
Freedom Tower, stands proudly in the area
destroyed by terrorists on "9-11" and is
part of our Fourth of July tribute piece.

Fourth of July weekend approaches in the land that we love. Despite heartbreaking damage of the flood, the crushing dent in tourism and destruction of many peoples' homes, roads, bridges and property, we celebrate America next week with a look at our country's magnificent ability to rebuild and rebound, to celebrate, despite adversity and challenge. Nowhere is the American spirit more evident than in the recovery of the massive destruction on the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Now, Tower One World Trade Center stands as proud testimony to a resilient, generous and determined people. We're proud to be American and have many friends worldwide who love our country and visit it for its wonderful cities and countryside, parks and monuments, theater, architecture, museums, restaurants and variety of landscape. They also note the welcoming spirit of our people. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh look at nature, the arts, family, travel and more: 

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