GARDINER, Mont. -- As the Yellowstone River raged amid record-high levels Monday, one visitor could only watch as a nearby housing center along the swollen river's banks succumbed to the powerful flood.
Video shot by Parker Manning shows the entire house falling into the river -- mostly still in one piece -- then being carried away downstream. The building stayed together as it floated for several miles before finally breaking apart.
"It was unbelievable," Manning told FOX Weather. "We had watched it for about 2.5 hours and there was a span of about 10 minutes where you could see the dirt really sluffing off underneath the house and everything was washing away."
As more and more of the riverbank eroded, Manning said the house began to lean at first.
"And once it started to fall, it was just amazing to see the entire house float down the river," he said. "It was hard to really imagine that it was taking place."
Park officials said the building was a housing unit for park staff members. Park staff lost everything they had inside but no one was injured.
Heavy rains and snowmelt combined for historic flood
Snowpack melt and rain sent a surge of water throughout the mountain ranges near Yellowstone National Park over the weekend, causing several rivers running near the park to reach historic flood stage levels on Monday, including the Yellowstone River.
The National Weather Service in Billings, Montana, said the combination of 0.8 to more than 5 inches of rain and 2 to 5 inches of snowmelt from June 10 to June 13 created unprecedented flooding across the Absarokas and Beartooths ranges.
Manning and his family had spent the weekend at Yellowstone and were due to head home Monday before floodwaters washed out many of the roads and bridges needed to leave.
"It was a bit crazy," Manning said. "We had a great time in the park on Saturday and Sunday. Come Monday morning, we were supposed to leave the (house) rental, but they closed all the roads, and it was very hectic from that point on."
Northern part of Yellowstone Park may close for season
Once the floodwaters began to recede, their family was allowed to use an emergency route out of town, and they were on their way to Bozeman Tuesday afternoon.
But the memory of the fallen home will stick with them.
"Very surreal, very sad," he said. "To see that house in one piece floating down the river, it was just insane."
High waters are not expected to fully recede until next week and there are hundreds of bridges that will need evaluation, officials said.
It's likely the northern part of the park between Gardiner and Cove City will be closed for the rest of the season, according to park officials, dealing another blow to nearby tourism companies. The park is usually home to 15,000-20,000 visitors a day, and there were nearly 10,000 at the park during the time of flooding.
The park had been closed for two months during the pandemic, but had never closed for flooding before, officials said.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte declared a statewide Tuesday disaster due to severe flooding in Carbon, Park and Stillwater counties.