When raging flooding obliterated nearby roads and cut power in the town of Gardiner, Mont., a small town sitting at the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Troop and Pack 551 was prepared to take action.
After a 2020 fire destroyed several buildings, the troop and their committee decided to set money aside for emergencies. Along with the emergency fund, they stockpiled water and other non-perishable food.
The Monday after the flooding, they heard roads were washed out and found they were isolated. Assuming they would soon lose power, “Our troop went into emergency mode,” said Scoutmaster Coby Dawson.
“(Coby) was especially thinking about stranded tourists and visitors who may not have been as high of a priority as some of the other flood victims. He solicited food and other donations from local businesses and organized Gardiner’s scouts to help cook and serve,” wrote David Eubanks in an email to Montana Council.
Troop 551 is spread out over 36 miles with one Boy Scout living in Gardiner and the rest living in the park at Mammoth, Cinnabar Basin and out in Paradise Valley.
“We had two of the older Boy Scouts, a Webelo and two Cubs in the isolation zone,” Dawson said. “The two older Scouts were stuck outside of town due to a downed power line, so they started assisting the first responders by barricading roads and going door-to-door warning people of the rising water.”
The Scouts made homemade chicken noodle soup, chili, and mac and cheese, and provided water bottles, hot chocolate and coffee on the first day. The Gardiner Market also helped by donating food and bottled water.
“On the second day, we had a couple of great ladies donate homemade soups like vegetable beef, barley and vegetable. The Scouts cooked spaghetti and meat sauce, served lemonade, and handed out water bottles, hot chocolate and coffee,” he said. “The tourists and locals enjoyed talking to the boys and eating a warm meal.”
Almost two weeks later, as neighborhoods start to rebuild, the community came together for a cleanup event with available Scouts helping to pull weeds, shovel dirt and pick up trash. They also set up tables, cooked hot dogs, served lemonade, and provided yard games at a potluck after the cleanup.
Thanks to the Gardiner Market, the Forest Service for use of their parking lot, the Saunders family and all that helped the Scouts serve the community.
The effects of the flooding will impact Gardener for the foreseeable future, but Dawson wants to make sure that people know, “Gardiner is open! Please come visit us.”