Duluth is essentially built on two geological features: a big steep hill, and a river valley and delta. Ten inches of rain is too much at once for the rainwater drainage system, so when it overflowed the drains it just used the streets as riverbeds. The rain fell on the steep hill, raced down the hill like a snowball gathering steam, and took all sorts of stuff with it in the process. Cars, asphalt, trees. Animals at the zoo. Houses, topsoil.
All of that water either ran into the lake or into the rivers. The rivers filled up and raced out to the lake. When the rivers filled, they got wider and wider and higher and higher. They flooded over their banks and flooded everything around them. Parks, houses, schools. Jay Cooke State Park, the entire town of Thomson.
Basically, Duluth is a big huge mess right now and there's not much else I can say. I'm still a bit shocked about the whole thing. The amount of damage done to the infrastructure and personal property will be costly, and it will wear on everyone's spirits. Amazingly, no injuries to humans were reported - other than bumps and bruises, minor cuts and headaches. Unfortunately, the zoo was by the floodwaters and an unknown number of animals perished.
One of the zoo's seals was washed out of her enclosure and wound up on Grand Avenue. Someone driving by snapped a picture of her, and it has been all over the internet.
|Ellie Burcar took this picture, posted it everywhere|
I got up at 6am yesterday morning and was annoyed to find out that my phone lacked reception. Not just the internet, but any reception. My computer didn't hook up to the internet, either. I don't have a TV, so I turned on the radio and listened to the description on NPR. Disbelieving (and curious), I put Thunderdog in the car and we headed off towards Knife River. I'd seen the river running full earlier in the year, and we were just there for the marathon. I wanted to see for myself what was going on.
|Obviously, the river is not supposed to be that large, that choppy, or that red.|
Items of personal sadness:
Rest in peace, Swinging Bridge from Jay Cooke State Park. You will never torture my dog again. I wish that Thunderdog could have gotten used to you.
|Duluth News Tribune, Bobby Wright|
This pic is of the Tourist Railroad on the south side of Duluth (not the one that goes up the North Shore).
|Could not find original source - please let me know if you know who took this pic|
The placid little river that Thunderdog and I walked by on our "bad walk" after her vet visit is placid no more.
|Lester River, Clint Austin. Duluth News Tribune|