Montana Governor Greg Gianforte called into the KGVO Newsmakers line on Tuesday to provide an update on what his office is doing in conjunction with the federal government to assist in the recovery of Yellowstone Park and the surrounding communities after the recent devastating flood.

Gianforte outlined his first official acts to help the situation.

“We requested the federal emergency declaration last Monday and it was approved,” said Gianforte. “Late last week on Friday I met with the FEMA Administrator and, and kudos to them. This is the head of FEMA in the United States. She didn't form a committee. She didn't call a consultant. She got on an airplane and flew to Montana to see the damage firsthand and brought her whole team with her.”

Gianforte provided a bird’s eye view of the damage.

“On Friday, we flew over the Gardiner River and Paradise Valley,” he said. “The road into the park? It's just gone in many places. The main highway bridge, the 89 Bridge Point of Rocks was completely washed out. But the thing that was most dramatic to me was the gal that owns the Yellowstone River Hotel in Gardiner. In the town hall meeting, we had Friday with standing room only, she held up an inch-thick stack of cancellations for hotel rooms she had received in the last 48 hours.”

The governor emphasized the great lengths that contractors are taking to repair the destroyed infrastructure in the park.

“Today, that 89 Bridge in Paradise Valley should be reopened,” he said. “Kudos to the contractor. I talked to him yesterday. They hauled 5,000 tons of rock in there and they ran 13-hour shifts to reopen that lifeline to Gardner. Now we’ve got to get the park open. We've been working with the superintendent. They have a plan to build an alternative route into the park because without that tourism traffic those main street businesses in Gardiner and Red Lodge are just not going to survive.”

Gianforte said KGVO listeners can help remedy the tragic situation in the Yellowstone area by traveling to the Paradise Valley and spending some money.

“Here's something every Montanan can do,” he said. “Paradise Valley is beautiful. There’s Chico Hot Springs. There are five rafting companies in Gardiner. You can fish the Yellowstone River. You can stay in one of the hotels. You can buy lunch down there. I would encourage people to go down and spend some money. Why not make a weekend of it? I'm planning on rafting the Yellowstone River down in Gardiner, and I hope other people do, as well. The Red Lodge rodeo is coming up. I'm planning on being there, and maybe we'll drop a little coin and that'll help the community as well.”

The governor said the President’s Disaster Declaration is already beginning to provide needed funds and other federal assistance for the people in the affected areas.

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Widespread flooding wiped out roads, bridges, buildings, and powerlines throughout riverside communities from Yellowstone National Park and Paradise Valley to Red Lodge. The Yellowstone River winding through Billings crested Tuesday, June 14, 2022. At 11:30 a.m. the National Weather Service in Billings reported the river rose above flood stage and was forecasted to hit 14.7 feet, nearly hitting the 15-foot record set in 1997.

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