RED LODGE - It was a day of recognition in Red Lodge for resident Sherry Weamer, after she was entered into the Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale for her dedication to the community following last June's floods.
“I’m overwhelmed, and I feel like I’m undeserving. All of the people in this room came together to bring the town back. It really was a team effort," Weamer, the executive director for the Red Lodge Area Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday, May 4, 2023. "So I’m just overwhelmed. This is amazing."
Weamer was also honored in March with the Red Lodge Community Leadership Award — the first of its kind.
“The word 'honored' keeps coming to mind. And I did a lot of research and I kept thinking, I want to come up with something even better. But honored truly is the word," Weamer said. "I’m so appreciative. I’m so happy for our town. I always say anytime I can bring more of the spotlight to Red Lodge, I’m all about it. So this is wonderful.”
The Congressional Record is the official record published by the United States Government Publishing Office. Weamer earned her spot through her commitment to Red Lodge.
“(The flood) was devastating when it first hit our town. I mean it affected over 100 residences on the south end of our town. Took out a couple of our motels. Houses went in the river. People lost their homes,” Weamer said. “I’m all about getting the businesses back to work. They need to be back in business, and the employees need their jobs. And that was my focus, was, we have to move on and keep our town moving."
And that focus assisted the town in more ways than one in disaster recovery efforts.
“We saw all of the challenges that Red Lodge had to go through when the flood came into the town through Rock Creek. And I just think it’s really important to recognize the people in the community that have done extra things. Going above and beyond to help put the community back together," Rosendale told MTN News on Wednesday. “She’s a leader. And leaders, what they do is they figure out what needs to be done, and they put a plan in place and how to execute it. And that’s exactly what she is."
And Rosendale believes the Red Lodge community as a whole has a strong "can-do" attitude.
"The flood that washed down destroyed a lot of infrastructure, and different businesses and homes were having challenges. (Residents) just said, ‘We have a can-do attitude.’ The next morning, they were out in the street. Out in the fields, clearing out the debris. They opened up some local gravel pits so that they could get additional materials to go back in and start rebuilding," Rosendale said. "All of this just demonstrates that they’re not going to lie down and wait for someone else to pick up the pieces for them. They immediately got to work."
They immediately got to work and are still working to repair damage to this day, almost a year later. But residents are proud of all of the work already done.
“A year after, we still have a lot of work to do. We’re looking forward to a great summer," said Beth Boggio, a lifelong Red Lodge resident, on Wednesday. "Things are starting off really well. Our ski season went really well. We’re going to just slide right into a great summer."
And Boggio says Weamer is more than deserving of this recognition.
“The Congressional Record was a long time coming. This event with our floods is just one example of Sherry stepping up, being the glue to promote everybody to give their best to help Red Lodge rise above this," Boggio said. "We’ve had fires, floods, event cancellations, things that caused our community to kind of need that support within the community to keep moving forward. And Sherry’s always been there to be that person. So she’s very deserving."
As for repairs, they should be complete within the next two months.
“There’s quite a bit of road work and stuff, but as far as in-the-river work, we’re about done. We’re trying to get done before the water comes up," said Bud Shumway, a shift superintendent for Wadsworth Brothers, the construction company contracted for infrastructure repairs, on Wednesday. "We’ll be done with the work in the river this month, and we’ll be done with all of the work here (on the road) within the next two months probably.”
And Shumway echoed the idea of a strong sense of community in Red Lodge.
“They’ve been super great. The community around here, the people, have been really good," Shumway said.
Providing a reminder that even in the darkest of times, a strong community can withstand anything.
“When people say 'Red Lodge', they just go, ‘awwww’. It’s fun, it’s interesting, we have the outdoors," Weamer said. "Our people are amazing, and that’s where you get that awe feeling. So, that’s where I’m at with it. I just love being here."
To learn more about the Red Lodge Area Chamber of Commerce, click here. To learn more about last June's floods, click here.
“(To the residents of Red Lodge) I love you. Thanks for being so wonderful. The future looks brighter than ever. We’re going to have a great summer,” Weamer said. "I’m speechless at this point. Overwhelmed. So thank you."