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Montana National Guard rescues group stranded at East Rosebud Lake

East Rosebud rescue group
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 12:07:47-04

RED LODGE — A group of around 60 people was rescued via helicopter from East Rosebud Lake on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, by the Montana National Guard, after part of the road to the lake washed away in a flood.

"They were planning on us being there two to four weeks," said camper Nicole O'Shea of Billings.

O’Shea thought her weekend camping trip had just turned into a month-long survival test. "Red Lodge is a disaster. Gardiner is a disaster. They basically said they’ll get to us when they get to us," she said.

O’Shea’s son was able to get his car out Sunday, but by the time O’Shea got back from breaking down camp, the road was no longer a road - it was a river.

"The road was completely washed out," Dayla Hatyes said. "Basically, no road in, no road out."

That was around 4 a.m. Monday, when Hayes - a 30-year East Rosebud resident - knew there was a problem. But like most of the people in the tight-knit Alpine community, she didn’t panic.

"We were basically pretty well prepared - we had a lot of food," she said. "My daughter used to have a book, ‘How to survive any situation.' We were just running through our mind what we needed, what was missing, what we could do."

The group met Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. to basically figure out how to survive for the foreseeable future.

"We were in the meeting and then we heard a helicopter," O'Shea said. "And this giant sky bus just dropped in the middle of camp."

Chinook helicopter
A Montana National Guard Chinook helicopter rescued a group of about 60 people from East Rosebud Lake Tuesday after a part of the road to the lake was washed away in a flood.

Next thing they knew, they were on a Montana National Guard Chinook helicopter, landing at the Red Lodge airport just in time for lunch at the Red Cross evacuation shelter at the neighboring fairgrounds.

"Once we got on the helicopter, it was a phenomenal experience," Hayes said. "It was so smooth and felt incredibly safe."

"It's the best shower I’ve ever taken," O'Shea joked once on the ground.

It was the fourth National Guard rescue mission in 24 hours in the area. On Monday, two people were rescued from Roscoe, two from Fromberg, and eight more from Cooke City. It’s just another example of rising to the challenge.

"It was really emotional," O'Shea said. "We were just overwhelmed, in a good way."

Dayle Hayes
Dayle Hayes smiles as she rides in a Montana National Guard Chinook helicopter after getting rescued from her home at East Rosebud Lake Tuesday.