Duluth overwhelmed by floodwaters after overnight deluge

4:48 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: PHOTOS: Duluth flooding

Video: Duluth overwhelmed by flooding after overnight rain

  • Thomson Reservoir near Highway 210
  • Photo from Duluth News Tribune
    

DULUTH, Minn. - The city of Duluth is in crisis mode after a deluge of rain overnight left parts of the community under floodwaters, and a number of animals at the Lake Superior Zoo dead.

Duluth PD public information office Jim Hansen says officials are working to declare a state of emergency in the city. As of 9:30 a.m. no one had been reported hurt or injured but at least a dozen homes have been evacuated.

Hansen says roads are unstable with numerous sinkholes and washouts. No travel is being advised.

Near Duluth, flooding and dangerous conditions prompted authorities to order both Jay Cooke State Park and the city of Thomson evacuated after the reservoir at Thomson overflowed.

Emergency 911 service is out in Lake County.

The crisis began after the National Weather Service indicated that more than five inches of rain fell in sheets in Duluth overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, leaving streets flooded and washed out, interstates and highways closed, and homes and basements flooded.

It appears the worst is not over: Another system was rolling into the Twin Ports area as of 7 a.m. promising even more rain for a city that cannot tolerate it.

As much as 7.7 inches was reported in areas near Duluth. Longtime residents say they haven't seen flooding of this magnitude since 1972.

Governor Mark Dayton released a statement Wednesday morning. It reads:

This morning my thoughts are with our friends and neighbors in Duluth and the surrounding region, as they respond to major flooding. I have spoken to Duluth Mayor Don Ness and have offered all possible state assistance now and during the recovery. I will travel to Duluth tomorrow morning to discuss further how the state can help.

Emergency crews are working hard to ensure public safety, while they begin the cleanup process. If you live or were planning to travel in the Duluth area, please follow their requests to stay off of affected roads and highways. Parts of Interstate 35 and Highway 23 are presently closed, as well as various local roads and streets. Please stay safe and allow the emergency crews to do their work.

Steady, torrential rain has closed Interstate 35, stretches of Highway 61 and downtown tunnels in Duluth. Police say numerous sinkholes and washouts have made travel dangerous. Residents of the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth are being asked to leave their homes because of the rising St. Louis River.

Duluth City Hall and a university campus have closed and and authorities are recommending emergency travel only.

Assistant Fire Chief Marcus Harden tells KARE 11 that crews have performed emergency water rescues to pull at least 3 motorists from submerged cars. He says firefighters have been helping to evacuate residents from areas with no history of flooding.

Firefighters and police officers helped the Lake Superior Zoo staff track down animals that were unaccounted for, including a seal that was later found outside the grounds in the middle of Grand Avenue.

The zoo did confirm that a number of animals did die in the flooding, including most of those who live in the barnyard exhibit.

The University of Minnesota Duluth campus closed Wednesday because of the flooding. The Duluth News Tribune says the Carlton County Sheriff's Department also recommended against traveling except for emergencies.

Here are the road closures posted by MnDOT due to flooding as of 7 a.m.

  • I 35 Northbound closed from Central Avenue to 27th West and 5th West to London Road
  • Southbound I 35 closed from 26th E to 5th W and 27th W - Central Avenue
  • Use alternate routes for I-35 in Duluth
  • Trunk Highway 53 - Mall area - water over road in two locations - road is open for now
  • Proctor - Trunk Highway H 2 closed in downtown Proctor - short detour in place

Other area closures:

  • Trunk Highway 23 closed south of Duluth - exact location unknown due to mud slides. Cell phone coverage
    not working well. More details to follow.
  • Trunk Highway 210 closed in Jay Cooke Park due to slides and washouts.
  • Trunk Highway 61 closed at Knife River - expressway

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With additional information and images from The Duluth News Tribune/http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

 

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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