East Rosebud cabin owners have vehicles blocked by helicopter | State and Region

Twenty-three vehicles were airlifted from East Rosebud Lake on July 21, an area where they were trapped when flooding in mid-June destroyed the only road.

“It was actually quite an operation,” said John Miller, an East Rosebud Creek neighbor who volunteered to help the shuttles. “It was really impressive to see the guy piloting this helicopter.”

A three-quarter ton diesel truck had to be left behind as it was too heavy to be lifted by the Central Copters Black Hawk HH 60L helicopter in Belgrade. Another vehicle was buried deep in debris and rock from the flooding.

“It’s practically part of the landscape,” said Teresa Erickson, president of the East Rosebud Lake Homeowners Association.

The cabins are located in the small community of Alpine, approximately 13 miles southwest of Roscoe in Carbon County. Many were originally owned by residents of Billings.

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The flood damaged East Rosebud Road and destroyed two bridges that provide access to the popular recreation area.

Photo courtesy East Rosebud Lake Association

fire and rain

The six-hour airlift is the latest challenge for the 68 cabin owners surrounding the mountain lake, a place that has also seen two wildfires, the last in 1996. Many residents who chose to stay during the heavy rains and the floods of June 12. and 13 were airlifted by the National Guard, with just 15 minutes to prepare.

Among them were Bozeman resident Dayle Hayes and the two friends who had joined her at the lake.

“I will never hear the evacuation of the National Guard the same way again,” she said.

Hayes added that the crew was efficient and professional during the airlift, a time when residents were a little anxious, uncertain and tense.

“Disasters tend to bring out the best in people,” Erickson said. “Our experience so far is that people have been incredibly generous with their time and their work.”

Left behind, however, was Hayes’ near-new cornflower-colored Subaru. She had been carless until the purchase last June, so it was nothing new to be carless, but it was frustrating to have a new car that she couldn’t drive for almost of five weeks.

Luckily for Erickson, she and her husband evacuated their cabin before the road and bridges were swept away. But she said even when they left, nearby streams were a “raging torrent. It was like a tsunami of water.

Pilot school

Air Transport

A Black Hawk helicopter lowers a vehicle at Jimmy Joe Campground south of Roscoe July 21 after picking it up near East Rosebud Lake.

Photo courtesy Teresa Erickson

Erickson said she needed to learn a lot about helicopters to help organize the evacuation. Air temperature, wind and altitude are all considered in the operation. She also discovered that the car insurance would not cover any of the costs as there was no damage to the vehicles.

Evacuating a single car may have cost as much as $20,000, Hayes said, rumor has it. Having to airlift 23 drastically reduced the cost to around $3,300 each. Erickson noted that it was still cheaper than buying a new car or continuing to lease one for an unknown length of time. A helicopter service from Billings was first contacted, but was called in for a wildfire.

The other option for cabin owners was to wait for the road to be repaired. Although emergency federal funds have been granted to the Custer Gallatin National Forest for such work, no contract has yet been signed. Erickson said it could be two to three years before a permanent road is installed.

“The road is essential for a number of reasons – one being that this crown jewel is no longer accessible to anyone, and so that flooded cottage owners can protect their beloved cottages, we have need a road,” Erickson wrote in a “Everything that was done, like putting sand in bags and trying to move the river away from the cabins, was done by hand and with a small skid steer loader. Shovels, pickaxes, sandbags (with all the new sand) and elbow grease were the main means we had to protect the cabins. We really need at least a temporary road, and hopefully before winter this year.”

Water damage

Streams swelled near the East Rosebud Homeowners Association alpine and damaged cabins on June 12-13.

Photo courtesy Anne Scott

Water damage

Repairs to the flood-damaged Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge were completed about five weeks after Rock Creek washed out six sections of roadway. The same weather event also damaged cabins at East Rosebud Lake, Erickson said.

In Yellowstone National Park, the storm washed out several sections of the road between the northeast and north entrances, causing the entire park to be temporarily closed. Homes and businesses along the Yellowstone Rivers, Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone and Stillwater Rivers, and Rock Creek in Red Lodge were also damaged or destroyed in what was tentatively called a 500-year flood.



East Rosebud Creek turned into a raging torrent during the flood.

Photo courtesy Teresa Erickson

The vehicle airlift turned into a party atmosphere as the cars were dropped off at Jimmy Joe Campground, Erickson said.

“So it was a happy day for the rescue of these cars,” she said.

Four people helped load the cars onto a specially constructed rack at the edge of the lake while eight others shuttled so the helicopter could quickly drop another car.

“It looked like fun,” Erickson said of the cars floating in the sky on the end of a cable. “I wish I could ride it.”

East Rosebud Lodge

The East Rosebud Lake Homeowners Association lodge is approximately 120 years old and has survived wildfires and flooding.

Photo courtesy East Rosebud Lake Association


Some of the cabins in East Rosebud have been in families for generations, with the main lodge being around 120 years old. So for evacuated owners and guests, having to helicopter out of the vehicles and not being able to access their summer hangouts has been emotional.

“There’s so much affection for this lake,” Erickson said. “Everyone wants to know what’s going on and how they can help. They feel helpless because they can’t get up there.

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Twenty-three vehicles were airlifted from the alpine community of East Rosebud Lake to Jimmy Joe Campground, about 3 miles away.

Photo courtesy Teresa Erickson

At present, other than a helicopter, the only way to enter is on foot. Erickson said it was a strenuous 3.5 mile hike through downed timber, boulder fields, thick forest and brush. Caretakers were airlifted in to clean cabins that were left in a hurry, including cleaning refrigerators so food wouldn’t rot during the power outage.

Those wishing to fly or hike find the area exceptionally peaceful.

“There are a lot of upsides,” Erickson said. “The beaten path has become the beaten highway in recent years, which is not pleasant. So everything rests. »

The Beaten Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. It travels between East Rosebud Lake and the Clarks Fork trailhead, located 4 miles east of the town of Cooke.

Hayes said she focused her training at the gym on being able to walk to her new cabin, a goal to achieve. His old cabin was destroyed in the Shepard Mountain fire in 1996.

“Now I have a place, but no way to get there,” she said.

“Now I’m waiting for the crickets,” Hayes joked.

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