KBZK: Tester, FEMA join Park County officials as they look to provide help for flood victims, businesses

by Edgar Cedillo

LIVINGSTON – U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell met with local officials on Friday, June 17, 2022, as they discussed the goal moving forward: to help out businesses and residents with the recovery effort.

“You know we deal with fires regularly in this state and we deal with foods too, but this is one of the biggest flood events I’ve ever seen as far as impact,” says Tester.

As flooding assessment in Park County winds down, the next area of focus shifts to recovery.

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“We want to make sure we get somebody right with the county emergency managers to help them understand the steps that need to happen,” says FEMA Administrator, Deanne Criswell.

FEMA says their goal for residents is to make the process to receive help as seamless as possible.

“I think it’s really important that people document with pictures, keep your receipts, and do everything you need to do to document the damage,” says Tester.

They say documentation will be key going forward to get help for those impacted by the devastating flood.

“That’s a really important piece either for their insurance company or for additional state or federal assistance if authorized,” says Criswell.

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Local officials are working on a one-stop-shop for residents who need disaster relief help.

“We’re setting up a multi-agency resource center that will include community resource organizations active in disaster,” says Deputy DES Coordinator, Nick Holloway.

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While Yellowstone may be closed Tester reminded everyone that areas in Southwest Montana remain open.

“Make no mistake the park plays an incredible role as far as an economic driver as bringing people to the region,” says Tester.

The one takeaway: Southwest Montana is still open to explore,and the park’s gateway communities such as Gardiner, Silver Gate, Livingston, West Yellowstone and Cooke City still offer opportunities for recreation, wildlife viewing and other great experiences.

“You know Montanans haven’t even seen all of Montana yet so if you’re a Montanan and you want to see what is going on get on out,” says Tester.

Yellowstone National Park officials say Yellowstone continues its efforts to recover from historic flooding and that a limited re-opening is “highly possible” next week at the park’s south loop, with certain visitor entrance modifications.

However, as of Friday, June 17, 2022, all five park entrances are closed temporarily. Officials say the West, South, and East entrances are targeted for reopening as early as next week.