Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Y is for Yellowstone River & the Oil Spill

I know everyone thought I couldn’t write all of my ABC’s.  I really didn’t forget about Y & Z in the Writing Challenge I just took a few detours.

I live in Yellowstone County and the Yellowstone River has shaped our section of the world.  It is always there rising and falling.  Effected by spring run off as the snow melts in the mountains.  Occasional floods from ice jams. 

Early May, I took pictures that were only teasers for the power and beauty of the river.  May brought our state torrential rains and the river rose.  The water table ROSE.  The rain continued, and the water rose Creeks began to flood, rivers flooded.  wells once dry began to flood.  Farmers couldn’t plant their fields.  Crops already planted, drowned.  Roads and bridges washed out.

In my neighborhood water came up the cracks in basement floors.  Insurance doesn’t cover it because it is called a flood.  My dictionary says a flood is fast running water.  This water seeped it bubbled and oozed up cracks.

Roundup is a small town North of us.  In Roundup people pumped water from there basements only to have walls cave in..  During the rains the roads were closed and people couldn’t get out or in.  Many families lost their homes. Their fairground is still underwater.  I have included several pictures that were taken after the roads were reopened and most of the flooding had gone down.

The Crow Reservation was impacted.  People lost phone service and could not get out by car.  Boats were brought in to bring in emergency supplies.

I talked with an acquaintance from Winnett, MT, she said that during the rains over 44 of the 50 county roads in Petroleum County were closed.

Last week I was in Helena, MT for training.  I met a teacher from Hobson (near Utica, MT).  She has been pumping water from their basement for the last couple of months.  She told me that for years you could look down the 35-foot well and never see water.  This year the water table is high, clear water has filled the wells and the basements.

The rain stopped in May and June things started to dry out.  People have been working to clean up the damage.  We have also been waiting for the runoff from the snow-melt, and the floods that would follow. The road to Yellowstone National Park had 25 feet of snow pack about a week ago.

Laurel, MT is home to buildings made from river rock that sit nestled by the Yellowstone River.  German Prisoners of War during WWII built the compound.  The rising water has threatened these historic buildings.

Then came Friday, July 1, 2011.   An Exxon Mobile pipe beneath the river ruptured, contaminating the Yellowstone.  Like all disasters there is conflicting information.  Exxon and state agencies are working to clean up the spill.  The river is running high and fast.  The oil has been reported as far away as Miles City, 150 miles down river.

The Yellowstone River is an integral part of our landscape.  What happens to it affects us all.  When I think of the oil spill, I am amazed when people wonder why Mother Nature has gotten cranky lately.


  1. I'm happy to see you with the 'Y', and back, but sorry to hear of the flooding for everyone. We have folks we know in Missouri who've had their fields flooded from the water north. We heard of the spill just yesterday on the news; they are playing it down, but we'll see what happens. I hope you'll let us know, too. We're in Denver, so your part of the state is in the news here.

  2. What a disaster! Why is the media barely covering this story (I'm in PA)?

  3. Wow, I was unaware of your flooding problems. It has been a horrible year full of disasters all over. We've been dealing with tornadoes in my neck of the woods. I hope that the oil spill is cleared up quickly and that the damage is minimal. Thank you for the informative post...I do love the Yellowstone area.

  4. I did see this on the media but it is such a shame. I hope once it is cleaned up that the long lasting effects are not there like they are in other places. Thanks for sharing. I feel so badly for people who have to go through this.

  5. I've been keeping up with the news and it hasn't been pretty - the Exxon execs have been doing the usual song and dance about how the impact is not that bad....but community activists have been saying otherwise. Good luck!

  6. Saturday we went to see areas of the river ourselves and most of the places were closed. We were told it was for safety reasons. I understand not wanting lots of people there when you are trying to work. But a pert of me wonders what we are not being told.

    I have doubts after hearing about how the communities were affected by the large oil spill in the gulf. So many people lost everything and they still haven't been made whole. So I am grateful that our oil spill was not very big.

    I think social networking - "Citizen Journalism" is how information will get out about events in our world. I think mainstream media is often hampered and unfortunately there are too many disasters.

  7. I am sorry to hear about the flood and the oil spill. Your last sentence about Mother Nature being cranky makes sense.


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