1-year anniversary: The Duluth Deluge


The city of Duluth on Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the worst flooding the city has ever seen. Several flood commemoration events are planned, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

A record storm June 19-20, 2012, dumped up to 10 inches of rain on some areas. Storm drains were overwhelmed and torrents of brown water rushed through the city built on a steep incline on the Lake Superior shore.

Flooding left huge sinkholes around town, closed Interstate 35 in the city, tore up dozens of streets, forced hundreds of residents from their houses and killed several zoo animals. Two seals gained national attention when the rushing waters washed them out of the zoo and one was photographed on a city street.

The damage was "horrific," Gov. Mark Dayton said after touring the city a few days after the storm.

Somewhat remarkably, no one was killed in the flooding. Perhaps the storm's best-known survivor was an 8-year-old boy playing in flood waters in Proctor, Minn., who took a frightening ride several blocks through a culvert but suffered only scrapes.

Flood recovery continues to plod along. The flood damaged 3,145 homes, leaving significant damage to 1,900 of them, the News Tribune reported in a lengthy look at where recovery efforts stand one year later. About half of those 1,900 have been repaired, the newspaper reported. Homes suffered about $40 million in damage, with about $20 million in losses to homeowner belongings, the newspaper reported.

Homeowners and businesses have been seeking loans and aid. The Regional Flood Fund raised more than $760,000, funneled to about 380 homeowners, Northland's Newscenter reported. The Ordean Foundation, Salvation Army, and Catholic and Lutheran Churches have raised another $2 million for projects that did not qualify for federal help, the newscenter reported.

The federal government and the state of Minnesota are both paying about $14 million each to repair public infrastructure, the News Tribune reported.

"Most of the heavy lifting of flood recovery — in terms of the fixing of the roads, and fixing of the culverts, and addressing some of the structural damage caused by the floods—most of that work is going to be done in the next 12 months," Duluth Mayor Don Ness said recently, Northland's Newscenter reported.

The flood produced volumes of memorable images. MPR and CityPages were among a number of news outlets that collected photos. The News Tribune has numerous slideshows and video.

About a week after the flooding, the News Tribune put together an hour-by-hour chronology that told the story of the historic storm in detail.

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Hundreds of residents in the low-lying Fond du Lac area of Duluth still cannot return after massive flooding in northeastern Minnesota this week. Damage estimates are climbing and more rain is expected. Meanwhile, congressional lawmakers pledge federal support. And kids in Duluth opened a lemonade stand to raise money for the Lake Superior Zoo, which was hit hard by the floodwaters.

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