At a cabin in Gardiner, Parker Manning of Terra Haute, Indiana, got an up-close view of the water rising and the river bank sloughing off in the raging Yellowstone River floodwaters just outside his door.
“We started seeing entire trees floating down the river, debris,” Manning told The Associated Press. “Saw one crazy single kayaker coming down through, which was kind of insane.”
A torrent of rain combined with a rapidly melting snowpack caused a deluge of flooding that forced the evacuation of some parts of Yellowstone National Park.
Electricty was cut and Yellowstone officials were forced to close all entrances indefinitely, just as the summer tourist season was ramping up.
Some of the worst damage happened in the northern part of the park and Yellowstone’s gateway communities in southern Montana.
The flooding cut off road access to Gardiner, Montana, a town of about 900 people near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardiner rivers, just outside Yellowstone’s busy North Entrance.
Cooke City was also isolated by floodwaters and evacuations were also issued for residents in Livingston.
Officials in Park County, which encompasses those cities, said on Facebook Monday evening that extensive flooding throughout the county also had made drinking water unsafe in many areas. Evacuations and rescues were ongoing and officials urged people who were in a safe place to stay put overnight.
The Montana National Guard said Monday it sent two helicopters to southern Montana to help with the evacuations.
It’s unclear how many visitors are stranded or have been forced to leave the park and how many residents outside the park have been rescued and evacuated.