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Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte was vacationing in Italy this week when he declared a “statewide disaster” due to severe flooding that struck Yellowstone National Park, Fox News confirmed Friday.
According to the governor’s office, Gianforte departed for Italy Saturday with his wife Susan for a “long-planned personal, private trip” before the floods had begun.
YELLOWSTONE FLOOD: PHOTOS SHOW DAMAGE AS SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES ASSESS ECONOMIC IMPACT
“When severe flooding struck, the governor delegated his authority to respond to the disaster to Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras with whom he worked closely over the last four days to take swift, decisive action,” press secretary for the governor, Brooke Stroyke, told Fox News. “Grateful to be back in Montana, the governor looks forward to being on the ground in Gardiner this morning to survey damage and meet with residents and local officials about recovering and rebuilding.”
Gianforte on Tuesday announced that he had declared “a statewide disaster due to flooding to help impacted communities get back on their feet as soon as possible.”
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It became apparent the governor was out of the state when a formal disaster relief request was submitted to President Biden displaying the signature of Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras, “on behalf of Governor Greg Gianforte,” several outlets reported earlier this week.
Gianforte’s office faced some criticism for his refusal to detail where the governor was.
On Friday Stroyke told Fox News that the move was taken out of precaution for the governor’s security.
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“With the governor back in the state and security concerns no longer an issue, we are providing information as promised,” the official said.
Gianforte on Friday applauded the coordinated efforts made by state, local and federal officials and said officials would continue to work to provide disaster relief for those affected by the flooding.
The governor encouraged Americans to keep their Yellowstone travel plans intact for this summer.