Dramatic video shows large house collapsing into Yellowstone River amid historic floods
A visitor from Indiana captured dramatic video of a waterfront house in Montana being swept away in a river as a torrent of rain combined with a rapidly melting snowpack caused a deluge of flooding in Yellowstone National Park.
At a cabin in Gardiner, Parker Manning 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.
On Monday evening, Manning watched as the rushing waters undercut the opposite riverbank, causing a house to fall into the Yellowstone River and float away mostly intact.
"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."
The Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs crested at 13.88 feet Monday, higher than the previous record of 11.5 feet set in 1918, according the National Weather Service.
Manning posted more photos and video of the flooding on Facebook, writing: "Crazy times in Gardiner MT."
The flooding triggered evacuations, cut off electricity and forced Yellowstone officials to close all entrances indefinitely, just as the summer tourist season was ramping up.
While numerous homes and other structures were destroyed, there were no immediate reports of injuries. Yellowstone officials said they were assessing damage from the storms, which washed away bridges, caused mudslides and left small cities isolated, forcing evacuations by boat and helicopter.
More than 10,000 visitors were ordered out of Yellowstone. The only visitors left in the massive park straddling three states were a dozen campers still making their way out of the backcountry.
Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said the backpackers who remained in the park had been contacted. Crews were prepared to evacuate them by helicopter, but that hasn't been needed yet, he said.
Sholly said he didn't believe the park had ever shut down from flooding.
Some of the worst damage happened in the northern part of the park and Yellowstone's gateway communities in southern Montana. National Park Service photos of northern Yellowstone showed a mudslide, washed out bridges and roads undercut by churning floodwaters of the Gardner and Lamar rivers.
The flooding cut off road access to Gardiner, a town of about 900 people near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardner 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.
Cory Mottice, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings, Montana, said rain is not in the immediate forecast, and cooler temperatures will lessen the snowmelt in coming days.
"This is flooding that we've just never seen in our lifetimes before," Mottice said.
In Red Lodge, Montana, a town of 2,100 that's a popular jumping-off point for a scenic, winding route into the Yellowstone high country, a creek running through town jumped its banks and swamped the main thoroughfare, leaving trout swimming in the street a day later under sunny skies.
At least 200 homes flooded in the city and in Fromberg, Carbon County authorities said.
On Monday, Yellowstone officials evacuated the northern part of the park, where roads may remain impassable for a substantial length of time, Sholly said in a statement.
But the flooding affected the rest of the park, too, with park officials warning of yet higher flooding and potential problems with water supplies and wastewater systems at developed areas.
The rains hit during the high tourism season. June, at the onset of an annual wave of over 3 million visitors that doesn't abate until fall, is one of Yellowstone's busiest months.
Yellowstone got 2.5 inches of rain Saturday, Sunday and into Monday. The Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone got as much as 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
In south-central Montana, flooding on the Stillwater River stranded 68 people at a campground. Stillwater County Emergency Services agencies and crews with the Stillwater Mine rescued people Monday from the Woodbine Campground by raft. Some roads in the area are closed because of flooding and residents have been evacuated.
"We will be assessing the loss of homes and structures when the waters recede," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
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