RED LODGE — A group of around 60 people was rescued from East Rosebud Lake Tuesday by Montana National Guard Chinook helicopters after a part of the road to the lake washed away in a flood.
"They were planning on us being there 2-4 weeks," said camper Nicole O'Shea of Billings.
O’Shea thought her weekend camping trip had just turned into a month-long survival test.
"Red Lodge is a disaster. Gardiner is a disaster. They basically said they’ll get to us when they get to us," she said.
O’Shea’s son was able to get his car out Sunday, but by the time O’Shea got back from breaking down camp, the road was no longer a road - it was a river.
"The road was completely washed out," Dayla Hatyes said. "Basically, no road in, no road out."
That was around 4 a.m. Monday, when Hayes - a 30-year East Rosebud resident - knew there was a problem. But like most of the people in the tight-knit Alpine community, she didn’t panic.
"We were basically pretty well prepared - we had a lot of food," she said. "My daughter used to have a book, ‘How to survive any situation.' We were just running through our mind what we needed, what was missing, what we could do."
The group met Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. to basically figure out how to survive for the foreseeable future.
"We were in the meeting and then we heard a helicopter," O'Shea said. "And this giant sky bus just dropped in the middle of camp."
Next thing they knew, they were on a Montana National Guard Chinook, landing at the Red Lodge airport just in time for lunch at the Red Cross evacuation shelter at the neighboring fairgrounds.
"Once we got on the helicopter, it was a phenomenal experience," Hayes said. "It was so smooth and felt incredibly safe."
"It's the best shower I’ve ever taken," O'Shea joked once on the ground.
It was the fourth National Guard rescue mission in 24 hours in the area. On Monday, two people were rescued from Roscoe, two from Fromberg, and eight more from Cooke City. It’s just another example of rising to the challenge.
"It was really emotional," O'Shea said. "We were just overwhelmed, in a good way."