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Local businesses worry as Yellowstone tourism season comes to a halt amid dangerous flooding

At the alpine lodge, owner Larry Yung's bustling summer season just grounded to a halt after Yellowstone National Park was forced to close due to dangerous flooding.  

The usual sounds of visitors crowding the park are now replaced by emergency responders working to evacuate people and contain flooding in the area.

"The helicopters are flying over. That's for rescue missions," he told CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti. 

At least 300 homes and 200 structures have been damaged. Survey teams are struggling to reach rural communities that have seen about 15 bridges destroyed. 

Yellowstone National Park Flooding
Mac Dean, owner of the flooded Yodeler Motel, throws debris into a dump truck Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Red Lodge, Mont. Business owners, those who flooded and those who didn't, are grappling with the potential loss of tourists after torrential rains swelled waterways across the Yellowstone region. Brittany Peterson / AP

"We've got probably another 100 or so homes of people who can't get back to their homes," said Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz. 

Park officials said they believe the southern side of the park could reopen as soon as next week, but the northern end could be closed for months due to extensive damage

"We will make every effort for the park to open, may not be full scale," Montana Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras said. 

Juras has been handling the disaster declaration while Gov. Greg Gianforte has been out of the country on what his office has called a "personal trip." 

Yellowstone National Park Flooding
Yokie Johnson cleans tables at the end of the night at MontAsia, the restaurant she runs with her husband in Fishtail, Mont., Thursday, June 16, 2022. The main road into Fishtail was washed away by the recent floodwaters and Johnson worries the lack of traffic will hurt their business. David Goldman / AP

Local businesses are under pressure to figure out how to economically sustain themselves through the winter, as nearly all of their profitable income for the year comes during the summer season. The popular tourist destination sees 2 million visitors every summer.

"Just help our town out by supporting us by coming to see us again," Yung said.  

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