NE MN Flood Causes Evacuations, Road Closures | Weather
Major flooding in Northeastern Minnesota has caused devastating damage, evacuations and road closures.
Gov. Mark Dayton was in Duluth Thursday to survey the flood damage and discuss how the state can help.
On Wednesday, the governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency following storm damage in eight counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Dakota, Goodhue, Lake, Rice and St. Louis.
Dayton's announcement came after Duluth Mayor Don Ness declared a state of emergency.
Up to 10 inches of rain fell in Northeastern Minnesota overnight Tuesday, and the soaking continued Wednesday.
The National Weather Service says the flood drowning Duluth is reminiscent of the flood of 1972.
The town of Moose Lake, and the city of Superior, Wisconsin are also flooded.
Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says they haven't seen this much flooding since the early 1900s. He says a bridge has washed out, roads are blocked or washed out and homes are flooded. They hope to get the Wisconsin governor to declare a state of emergency.
Evacuations and Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated the state emergency operations center Wednesday morning because of the flooding in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis Counties. The center coordinates planning, operations, and public information to keep Minnesotans and infrastructure safe.
Current evacuations include:
St. Louis County
- Barnum is completely evacuated
- Moose Lake is partially evacuated and officials are urging citizens to boil their water
- Thomson is completely evacuated
- Willow River remains under a boil water order
- Secondary Technical Center – 12 people
- Fond du Lac Ojibwe School – 130 people
- Scanlon Community Center – 14 people
The Minnesota Department of Health has a new web page for health-related flood information.
According to MnDOT, as of June 22 at 11 a.m. current road closures include:
I- 35 is now open both north and sound bound through Duluth and the I-35 exit ramp to Moose Lake is also open.
- Hwy. 2 from I-35 to Boundary Avenue in Proctor—temporary road project now permanent road closure due to flooding
- Hwy. 23 from Hwy 39 in New Gary Duluth to just south of the St. Louis River in Fond du Lac, completely closed evacuating the community.
- Hwy. 61 at Knife River, detour in place
- Hwy. 65 eight miles south of McGregor, under two feet of water, detour in place.
- Hwy. 73 west of Moose Lake
- Hwy. 73 north of Floodwood
- Hwy. 210 from Carlton to Duluth (through Jay Cooke State Park)
- Hwy. 210 four miles east of McGregor, detour in place
Click here for a map of some of the road closures in Aitkin and Carlton Counties.
Click here for emergency information from BeReadyMN.com.
The following locations have declared a state of emergency:
- State of Minnesota
- Carlton County
- Lake County
- City of Moose Lake
- City of Wrenshall
The city of Moose Lake declared a state of emergency following the closing of a bridge on Highway 73. A fishing pier broke loose on Moosehead Lake and authorities were concerned it could affect the bridge. MnDot bridge inspectors will inspect the bridge Thursday and decide when it can be safely re-opened.
Residents Should Report Storm Damage
- Aitkin (218) 927-7436
- Carlton (218) 384-9518
- Cook (218) 387-3059
- Crow Wing (218) 825-3445
- Dakota (651) 438-4703
- Duluth (city) (218) 730-4390
- Goodhue (651) 267-2639
- Kandiyohi (320) 235-5133
- Lake (218) 226-4444
- McLeod (320) 864-1339
- Meeker (320) 693-5400
- Pine (320) 629-8385
- Rice (507) 332-6119
- Sibley (507) 237-4109
- St. Louis (218) 625-3966
- Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe (218) 878-7502
Click here for the DPS Minnesota Recovers webpage.
Minnesota Power says its dams along the St. Louis River leading into Duluth and Superior, Wis., are holding well.
Utility spokeswoman Amy Rutledge tells the Duluth News Tribune there are no problems with any of the four dams along the lower river - including the Fond du Lac, Thomson, Scanlon and Knife Falls dams. She adds, "the system is designed to handle this kind of flood and more."
She says the stream flow at the Fond du Lac Dam has rocketed tenfold from the usual 2,000 to 5,000 cubic feet per second to 47,000.
The utility has opened dam gates to prevent floods upstream. That caused the river to rise rapidly in the Fond du Lac neighborhood, as it often has in the past, and inundate riverfront areas there.
Flooding has caused damage to railroad tracks in West Duluth. A railroad spokesperson says the rain has impacted their operations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are evaluating conditions, and are working on repairs.
The Duluth airport is operational. Planes are able to fly in and out.
State Park Closures
The DNR reports there are two groups of campers stranded at Savanna Portage State Park. The seven campers are in contact with park staff and have food and supplies.
Flooding has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to close several state parks.
The DNR says Savanna Portage State Park near McGregor and Jay Cooke State Park near Carlton, will be closed until further notice while officials assess the damage.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Ironton is also closed due to flooding.
Moose Lake State Park near Moose Lake has closed its campground due to a washout.
The Willard Munger State Trail from Carlton to Duluth is closed until further notice due to washouts.
Hill Annex Mine State Park where tours are cancelled for today and questionable for the weekend.
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.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior is also closed after flooding on campus.
University spokeswoman Lynne Williams says most buildings have water in their basements and a couple have several feet of water. She says classes and most events were canceled Wednesday.
Post Office Closures
Three post offices in Duluth are closed including Civic Center Station, Lakeside Station, and Miller Hill Station.
All state offices in the city of Duluth were closed Wednesday.
Statements on Flooding
Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement:
"This morning my thoughts are with our friends and neighbors in Duluth and the surrounding region, as they respond to major flooding," Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. "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."
Senator Tom Bakk released the following statement:
“The flooding situation in the Duluth area and many other Northeastern Minnesota communities is extremely serious, and at this time, getting worse due to the threat of additional rainfall. I personally spoke with Governor Dayton.
He will visit Duluth tomorrow to meet with local officials to work out what can most quickly and effectively be done to repair damage to infrastructure as well as private and public property. There is clear evidence of serious, widespread damage.
I have urged the Governor, through his chief of staff, to declare a state of emergency so the National Guard and other state resources can be dispatched to assist communities with dealing with the flooding and its aftermath.
This is a very dangerous situation. It’s important for the public to follow the advice of emergency management personnel where evacuation is recommended and to avoid all non-emergency travel.”
U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack released the following statement:
“Mayor Ness assures me that while significant damage has resulted from this week’s storms and subsequent flooding, close coordination between the city and emergency crews is taking place to ensure public safety.
I thank the Mayor and his staff for the quick response to this disaster. My staff and I stand ready to assist the emergency efforts – I will be in Duluth tomorrow. In the interim, I have requested a meeting with FEMA Administrator Fugate and FEMA Region V Administrator Velasquez, and my district staff has been deployed to the area as well.
While it is certain that damage to private property, our roadways, and other infrastructure will be costly, it is my hope everyone’s strong efforts will be enough to ensure repair and safety for all in Duluth.”
How to Help
There are several ways you can help support the flood victims in Northern Minnesota. One way is to go to givemn.org. Hubbard Broadcasting has teamed up with the foundation to collect money for the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Lake Superior Zoo. Click here to make a donation.
Storms Impact Minnesota Rivers
The storms are impacting Minnesota rivers. The St. Croix River is on the rise; it was at 80.01 feet Wednesday morning, and is expected to reach more than 83 feet by Friday night, which could prompt a “no wake” zone on the water again.
The National Weather Service is predicting that the Mississippi River will go above 30,000 cubic feet per second this weekend. The locks and dams could close again to recreational boating.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.