One year ago today, the Yellowstone River and its tributaries experienced catastrophic flooding.
In the early hours of disaster, the Southwest Montana Flood Relief Fund was created to help people, businesses and nonprofits in Park County that were impacted by the flooding. The fund was created by Greater Gallatin United Way and the Park County Community Foundation, according to a joint press release from those organizations.
The unprecedented flooding impacted 400 homes, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. The flood relief fund raised more than $3 million from thousands of people across all 50 states and beyond, the release states.
“Over the past year we have witnessed an incredible display of humanity as our community has worked to rebuild and recover from this historic disaster,” stated Gavin Clark, executive director of the Park County Community Foundation. “We saw neighbors helping neighbors and folks from around the world chip in to help. This place is not just special because we are fortunate to live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but because of the people that call this place home.”
All raised funds have been allocated in Park County, according to the release. More than 400 people whose homes and properties were impacted by the flood received $1.8 million. People and businesses in Gardiner, Silver Gate, Cooke City, Mammoth (Wyo.) and Colter Pass received $430,000 in economic relief. And $782,000 was granted to nonprofits and local governments working on recovery and community resiliency efforts.
More than $1.5 million was raised through music events in Park County, with benefit shows from artists like John Mayer, who lives in Park County.
“It gives me inspiration and a lot of hope to see something tended to with so much cooperation and unity. This was a community effort. This accomplishment belongs to us all,” Mayer stated.
With grants from flood relief funds, the Park County Human Resource Development Council has provided 135 households with rent and utilities, 47 reimbursements for housing repair, four vehicle repair reimbursements, and 131 referrals to various additional supporting organizations.
Other programs have been created after the floods, including ones connecting Park County residents with mental health counselors and resources. Mental health struggles have increased following the flood, according to the release.
And for businesses impacted by the flood, the Yellowstone Community Fund began providing monthly stipends in October to around 55 people who needed support after losing their income as a result of a severe decline of tourism to the area.
“This flood really turned us upside down when we were least expecting it. Between my landlords not offering renewal, and work having to cut down my hours, life suddenly got very tight. I love my community and have loved being a part of it since 2017. This is why I do not want to simply relocate, because I know how strong our community is. This assistance helped me make it through,” stated a Gardiner resident and relief recipient.
“I am extremely humbled by the generosity shown by the thousands of people across the US that donated to help our neighbors. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped,” stated Kimberly Hall, president and CEO of Greater Gallatin United Way.
Barb Oldershaw, program director for the Park County Community Foundation, stated that the unified efforts following disaster “have made us a stronger, more resilient community moving forward.
“Moments of crisis often reveal silver linings and this terrible event was no different. It showed the power of a community coming together to solve problems and help each other out.”