Monday, June 25, 2012

More high water in Minnesota

Less than a month ago I was writing about the local flood we had here on Sand Creek. Now it seems like nothing; one road washed out in one place, and was fixed by noon the next day. Compare that with what happened last week in Duluth, MN, just fifty miles north of here. With up to ten inches of rain Tuesday night, the city's streets, creeks, and storm sewers were overwhelmed. If you are not familiar with Duluth, it is a beautiful city located at the westernmost point of Lake Superior. Much of the city is on a hillside that drops over 600 feet from the edge of the hill to the lakeshore. When you live on a hill with a marvelous lake view, you don't think about floods too much. Hardly anyone saw this coming. Streets are collapsed or washed away, houses are moved off foundations, and a couple of seals from the Duluth Zoo almost had the chance to make Lake Superior their home.

We go to Duluth once a month or more for shopping or more fun stuff. I have not been there since the flood; our main route into the city runs next to the St. Louis River and was under water for a while.

On Wednesday I was shocked to hear the news from Duluth. What I did not realize was that a lot of rain also fell on the headwaters of two local rivers, the Moose Horn and the Kettle. We "only" had about two inches of rain that night; Sand Creek was high but not nearly as high as it was three weeks ago. But there was a huge gradient in rainfall in less than thirty miles to the northwest, with six to eight inches falling in places with the ground already saturated from previous storms.

The Kettle River, pictured above at Highway 23 near the kids' school, crested Friday morning at a level that beat the previous record, set in 1972, by two feet. The bridge in the picture is the one I sit under sometimes and play flute, with the water a good six feet below me.

I have some friends who live on the shores of the Kettle River. I'm sure they never imagined water reaching the tops of their kitchen cabinets; after all, it had never even been close. While they will keep their house, they are faced with a long and expensive cleanup. There are people in the town of Moose Lake who are not so lucky; their homes are beyond repair. No one thought this would ever happen.

So many weird weather events, so little time, and lives are changed in an instant. Is this the new normal?


Pablo said...

I wish you could send some of that water my way.

I've read that Duluth is considered the westernmost eastern seaport (because of the St. Lawrence Seaway).

webb said...

Glad you don't personally have any damage, but it;s always heart-wrenching when it's your neighbors who do. Hope the clean up goes well and doesn't take too long.

Deb said...

Pablo- yes it is. That is what makes Duluth (and Superior, sister port city in Wisconsin) so interesting. I only have to drive an hour to get to the coast.

Webb- From wjhat I hear, a lot of people are hurting in this area. But, there are a lot of self reliant people and some generous souls. People really come together in a time like this. That said, I am glad my house survived the "flood test" we had Memorial Day weekend.