HELENA — Montana National Guard helicopter crews have rescued a dozen people who were stranded due to flooding in southern Montana.
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter were used to assist in search and rescue efforts in Roscoe and Cooke City.
Starting at 2:45 p.m. on Monday, the Guard began receiving requests to rescue stranded civilians using the helicopters' hoist capability.
The first helicopter rescued two people in Roscoe, and two in Fromberg. The second helicopter recovered eight people in Cooke City.
The aircraft then stopped in Billings to prepare for any follow-on missions. On Monday evening, two additional helicopters joined them.
On Tuesday, the Guard received a third request, to assist with a search and rescue in the vicinity of East Rosebud Lake.
The Guard is also sending a group of soldiers to Red Lodge to establish a command center to assist with coordinating further search and rescue activity in the region.
The helicopters and aircrews are part of the 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion, based in Helena.
Crews are also responding to a request for search and rescue assistance in the vicinity of East Rosebud Lake.
On Tuesday morning, Governor Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster due to severe flooding in Carbon, Park, and Stillwater counties, as well as flood warnings in other parts of the state.
He said in a news release: “With rapid snowmelt and recent heavy rains, communities in south-central Montana are experiencing severe flooding that is destroying homes, washing away roads and bridges, and leaving Montanans without power and water services. Today’s disaster declaration will help impacted communities get back on their feet as soon as possible, and I have asked state agencies to bring their resources to bear in support of these communities.”
The situation has also affected Yellowstone National Park, which on Monday closed all entrances to the park due to heavy flooding, rockslides, mudslides, and extremely hazardous conditions. Park officials said that no inbound visitor traffic will be allowed into the park until conditions stabilize and the park can assess damage to roads and bridges and other facilities. This includes visitors with lodging and camping reservations.