Flood damage lessened by lessons learned from 2012

The Northland had a soggy weekend on September 23-24, with significant rain accumulation which resulted in flooding in the Duluth area. On Monday afternoon, the City of Duluth and St. Louis County held a press conference to update the clean-up plans.

Officials said lessons learned in 2012 helped prevent more damage over the weekend. Clean-up continues and most of the roads were reopened Monday.

“I personally want to thank the staff at the City of Duluth who have to put in a lot of effort and work to not just respond, but to assess, to plan to help us catalog and figure out what we need to do to close down streets quickly, to make adjustments to traffic patterns and to fix water mains in this kind of weather,” Mayor Emily Larson said. “I know other representatives of their organizations will thank their staff, but I also sincerely thank WLSSD and St. Louis County because public workers are doing really important things in these kind of events.”

According to the NWS, As of the 1AM observation Monday, this event is the wettest 3-day period since the 2012 flood at 4.61″ which is good for 14th place overall.

“Initial reports are that most of the damage seems to be to our trails and some bridges. There are some remote areas that are submerged and as water subsides, we’ll be we’ll have a better opportunity to assess those,” Mayor Larson said. “But overall, it is moderate damage to our Parks and trails system and we are grateful for that.”

Watch Full Press Conference

As of 8:22 a.m., the official rainfall at the Duluth International Airport was 4.59 inches. Higher amounts fell in portions of St. Louis County, with 7.17 inches just 2 miles NNW of French River, and 6.59 inches 13 miles NNE of Duluth.

Mayor Larson said the City uses rain events like this to help guide how the City moves forward making improvements.

“Yesterday for us, it was members of our public works and utilities team, Duluth Fire, Duluth Police, property, parks… all deploying and working together to help meet the needs of our community,” Mayor Larson said.

Jim Benning, Duluth’s Public Works Utilities Director said the damage was not as bad as it could have been.

“Most of the damage was on the eastern part of the town in the following watersheds, the Tischer Creek watershed, the Chester Creek Watershed and the Miller Creek Watershed,” Benning said. “We did close some roads around town temporarily.” The roads in Duluth have been reopened, however there may be some cones on some streets. Benning said the City experienced four sanitary sewer overflows.

Benning said there was general debris within a lot of culverts that will be cleaned out in the next few weeks.

If residents find any damage or concerns they can report to the Public Works Department.

There were about 25 locations with damage found in St. Louis County, according to Public Works Director, Jim Foldesi.

“The damage was mostly confined to the very southeast corner of the county in Duluth, Lakewood, and Normanna Townships,” Foldesi said. “About half of the damaged areas are shoulder washouts, and the other half are small culverts mostly on gravel roads.”

Foldesi says St. Louis County should have the roads repaired and back open by the end of the day Monday, with the exception of Strand Road between Jean Duluth Road and Washburn Road.

St. Louis County is working with the City of Duluth and surrounding townships to compile damage assessments to determine if the event requires a state or federal disaster declaration. “With St. Louis County Public Works, we’re estimating about $100,000 to $150,000 worth of damages at this time,” Foldesi said.

Foldesi says report of damage from the public really helps in a situation like this event. “We can’t chase around the county and be everywhere at once,” he said. “So we really appreciate the eyes and ears of our citizens to report these situations by calling 9-1-1 when they do occur.”

Duluth City Parks officials are out assessing the state of parks and trails. As of Monday afternoon, the public is being asked to stay off of natural trails.