Floodwaters have wiped out large swathes of roads and bridges and swamped hundreds of homes in surrounding areas. The disaster, which was caused by a combination of heavy rain and melting snow over a span of a few days, may have irrecoverably damaged the landscape of the US’s oldest National Park. The deluge even affected a popular fishing river in the region, pushing it off course, with some reports warning that the change may be permanent.
Bill Berg, a commissioner in nearby Park county old AP: “The landscape literally and figuratively has changed dramatically in the last 36 hours.
“A little bit ironic that this spectacular landscape was created by violent geologic and hydrologic events, and it’s just not very handy when it happens while we’re all here settled on it.”
Fortunately, no casualties have been reported, even as the Park was shut down for the first time in 34 years.
Superintendent Cam Sholly said: “I’ve heard this is a 1,000-year event, whatever that means these days.
“They seem to be happening more and more frequently,”
Floodwaters have wiped out large swathes of roads and bridges (Image: William Campbell/Getty Images))
Experts have repeatedly warned that such “once in a millennia” natural disasters are set to become more common as climate change wrecks the world.
Robert Manning, a retired University of Vermont professor of environment and natural resources said: “We certainly know that climate change is causing more natural disasters, more fires, bigger fires and more floods and bigger floods.
“These things are going to happen, and they’re going to happen probably a lot more intensely.”
Mr Sholly added that according to some weather forecasts, the flooding is expected to continue up until this weekend.
Incessant rain and rapid snow melt caused cabins in parts of southern Montana and northern Wyoming to be washed away, as the flooding swamped small towns and knocked out power.
Authorities have now warned that the flooding could threaten to cut off fresh drinking water supplies to Montana’s largest city.
Local officials in Billings, Montana have asked residents to conserve water after supplies fell to 24-36 hours worth of water as the flood forced them to shut down the city’s water treatment plant.
Debi Meling, the city’s public works director told AP: “None of us planned a 500-year flood event on the Yellowstone when we designed these facilities”.
The deluge even pushed a river off course (Image: William Campbell/Getty Images)
Experts have repeatedly warned that such floods will become more common with climate change (Image: William Campbell/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, residents from Red Lodge, Montana, which is bordering the Yellowstone National Park, worked to clear thick mud and debris from a flooded home using shovels, a wheelbarrow and a pump.
Resident Pat Ruzich said: “We thought we had it, and then a bridge went out.
“And it diverted the creek, and the water started rolling in the back, broke out a basement window and started filling up my basement.
“And then I quit. It was like, the water won.”