Massive floodwaters ravaged Yellowstone National Park and nearby communities Monday, washing out roads and bridges, cutting off electricity, and forcing visitors to evacuate parts of the iconic park at the height of summer tourist season. All entrances to Yellowstone were closed due to the deluge, caused by heavy rains and melting snowpack, while park officials ushered tourists out of the most affected areas. Some of the worst damage happened in the northern part of the park and Yellowstone’s gateway communities in southern Montana. There were no immediate reports of injuries, per the AP. The park's gates will be closed at least through Wednesday, officials said.
"We will not know timing of the park's reopening until flood waters subside and we’re able to assess the damage throughout the park," Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. The flooding cut off road access to Gardiner, Montana, a town of about 900 people near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardner rivers, just outside Yellowstone's busy North Entrance. 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 said. "Saw one crazy single kayaker coming down through, which was kind of insane."
Yellowstone got 2.5 inches of rain Saturday, Sunday, and into Monday. The Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone got as much as 4 inches. "It's a lot of rain, but the flooding wouldn’t have been anything like this if we didn't have so much snow," said a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "This is flooding that we’ve just never seen in our lifetimes before." In Joliet, Montana, Kristan Apodaca wiped away tears as she stood across the street from a washed-out bridge. The log cabin that belonged to her grandmother, who died in March, flooded, as did the park where Apodaca's husband proposed. "I am sixth-generation. This is our home," she said. "That bridge I literally drove yesterday. My mom drove it at 3 a.m. before it was washed out."
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