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Biden declares federal flooding disaster in Montana, Gianforte returns to state

 High water levels in the Lamar River eroding the Northeast Entrance Road.
National Park Service
National Park Service
High water levels in the Lamar River eroding the Northeast Entrance Road.

President Joe Biden has declared the catastrophic flooding in Montana a major disaster following requests from the state’s governor and congressional delegation.

A disaster declaration opens up more federal aid as Montana recovers from the damages caused by flooding. The state Department of Transportation is estimating $29 million in damage just to roads and bridges, according to the governor’s office.

Yellowstone National Park is closed due the flooding, which is expected to significantly impact regional tourism.

Gov. Greg Gianforte formally requested the federal declaration on Wednesday. The governor had been traveling since late last week and arrived back in Montana Thursday evening, according to his office.

"The governor departed early Saturday morning to Italy with his wife for a long-planned personal, private trip," spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke said in an email Friday. "When severe flooding struck, the governor delegated his authority to respond to the disaster to Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras with whom he worked closely over the last four days to take swift, decisive action."

Gianforte joined members of Montana's congressional delegation on Friday for a tour of the damage to Yellowstone National Park and the neighboring town of Gardiner.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Updated: June 17, 2022 at 11:45 AM MDT
This story was updated at 11:45 on Friday to reflect the governor's return to Montana.
Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.