Yellowstone chaos after flooding

Yellowstone closure and flooding 

A severe rain storm brought flash flooding to the Yellowstone National Park area yesterday, washing away numerous roads and structures in swift currents, forcing a closure of the park while trapping thousands of tourists within it. 

June is typically a very busy time in the park, with more than 750,000 visitors expected over the month. 

X X X 

Important update from the Superintendent’s Office at Yellowstone National Park. This is in reference to the unprecedented rainfall and flooding that has occurred at Yellowstone National Park.

“If you have plans to visit YNP this summer, you are encouraged to rethink them and work with Xanterra and other lodging, activities, car rentals, etc to modify those.  

Here are the short and long-term objectives we’ve set and will be focused on as a park for recovery:

• Ensure safety of employees and visitors

• Implement full visitor closure of the northern loop (completed yesterday)

• Implement full visitor closure of the southern loop (ongoing target completion today)

• Implement full visitor closure of the backcountry (in process)

• Evaluate needs for backcountry evacuations (begin today – assess how many people are in the backcountry, evacuation plan)

• Improve Old Gardiner Road (work should begin on this today or tomorrow once precipitation subsides. Plan will be to use this road for admin travel and to evacuate visitors from Gardiner should Hwy 89 remain impassable)

• Restore power to northern Yellowstone sites and Canyon, Lake, and Norris (Northwestern Energy working on this now and are saying should be restored today)

• Evacuate Gardiner visitors through Old Gardiner Road if necessary (likely Thursday or Friday if possible and if Hwy 89 is not open)

• Support Gardiner residents with resupply of food, water and medicine (we will be working with the Gardiner Market and others to determine needs of the community. We may bring supply trucks to Mammoth and fly supplies to Gardiner using the park’s aircraft and potentially National Guard air support; working with county and state)

• Support isolated NPS residents at NE entrance with resupply through aircraft when necessary (employees at NE entrance are sheltering in place, we are in contact with them and will gauge their needs to provide assistance. They are cut off from Cooke City)

• Provide support to Cooke City residents as necessary

• Mitigate wastewater impacts of destroyed sewer lines in Gardiner and Mammoth (ongoing)

• Relocate all Mammoth-based concessions employees to properties on the southern loop (happening today and tomorrow)

• Halt and redirect any inbound employees hired to work in Mammoth or Tower who haven’t arrived yet

• Support employees who lost housing in Gardiner (multiple actions)

• Prepare for outside teams to travel to Yellowstone and assist with damage assessments when water recedes (mixture of Federal Highways, NPS, and  other)

• Prepare a strategy for reservation system for the southern loop for the remainder of the year (we will not allow full visitation into the southern loop when it reopens and are working on options to control the amount of visitors who can enter the park; southern loop will likely not open for another 5 days at minimum)

• Develop long-term reconstruction strategy based on damage assessments; funding strategies TBD with region/WASO/DOI

• Continue substantive communications with gateway communities, congressional and DOI/NPS leadership

• Continue media outreach”