Sherri Deerman had never flown on an airplane before going to Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas for her honeymoon.
By the time it her week-long trip was over on Tuesday, the English teacher at Jacksonville High School had been on an airplane and a helicopter as she and her husband, Sid Deerman, were rescued from floodwaters that closed off Yellowstone’s north entrance this week.
The couple, married on Valentine’s Day, were enjoying their honeymoon at their hotel in nearby Gardiner, Mont., when the city was completely cut off by flooding and the streets going through Yellowstone were washed out.
All the entrances to the park remained closed Thursday “due to extremely hazardous conditions from unprecedented amounts of rainfall.”
“The Alabama teacher who hasn’t been anywhere finds herself trapped in Gardiner, Mont.,” Sherri Deerman said with a laugh as she recounted her ordeal to AL.com on Thursday. “It was scary.”
On Sunday, Sherri and Sid Deerman watched a house on the same side as their hotel collapse into a river. Fortunately, the waters did not hit the riverbank where their hotel was situated.
“He said, ‘there are trees coming down this river, like roots and all,’” Sherri Deerman recalled her husband telling her. “It was just amazing to us, here comes all these trees down the river, huge trees.”
The Deermans were supposed to leave Gardiner on Monday, but hotel staff made them stay an extra night because it was too dangerous to leave.
“Of course, we didn’t sleep any because the river was roaring outside our hotel room,” Sherri Deerman said.
The couple could have been stranded by Yellowstone for three weeks had it not been for several “angels” along the way.
“That afternoon, there was no more gas in Gardiner, water couldn’t be boiled to drink, restaurants were closing,” she said. “It was a mess. We were fortunate to get out when we did.”
Sherri Deerman said her son’s girlfriend was scouring social media for information on the Yellowstone floods when she came across a post from another tourist said he found a helicopter company to get him out of the area.
Her son’s girlfriend then messaged the man and put him in touch with Sherri Deerman to get the company’s information.
“Fifteen-hundred dollars later, we are finally landing in Bozeman, Mont.,” on Tuesday, the teacher said.
The trek to the helicopter was not easy, she recalled. The couple had to abandon their rental car because of the flooding, but a fellow tourist at their hotel offered to drive the Deermans to the aircraft.
“We met a lot of angels on our way out of there,” said Sherri Deerman.
The couple then got into a four-seat helicopter with only carry-on luggage; their larger bags would have to be shipped back home to Alabama because of weight restrictions.
“Who knows when we’ll get our suitcase, but who cares? We got ourselves back,” Sherri Deerman said.
From the airport in Bozeman, the Deermans flew to Atlanta on Tuesday before getting back to Alabama.
“We’re happy to be home,” she said.