Dayton declares Duluth flood state of emergency

9:31 AM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency and authorized the National Guard to help Duluth cope with its flood damage.

The governor issued the executive order Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after promising Duluth Mayor Don Ness that the state would provide all possible assistance.

Dayton plans to travel to Duluth on Thursday morning to discuss further how the state can help.

Dayton also asks people who live in or were planning to travel in the Duluth area to follow the requests of local authorities to stay off of affected roads and highways so emergency crews can do their work.

In Carlton, several residents have been evacuated. Some residents in Thomson Township in Carlton County were urged to leave after the Thompson Reservoir overflowed. Residents of Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood had also urged to evacuate.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at First United Methodist Church in Duluth, also known as the "Copper Top Church." 

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.

The city of Superior, Wisconsin is also flooded.

University of Wisconsin-Superior spokeswoman Lynne Williams says they had to shut down campus Wednesday, because of power outages and flooded basements, some with several feet of water.

Much of Douglas and Bayfield counties received 3 to 5 inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday, with some areas getting more than 6 inches.

There are no reports of anyone being displaced from homes, but more rain is expected Wednesday.

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 governor to declare a state of emergency.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press and KARE. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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