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Northland Flooding Only Getting Worse

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DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — The devastation from the Northland floods is only getting worse Friday morning. In fact, locals and government officials in the Northland say they’ve never seen it this bad.

Preliminary numbers show this week’s torrential rains in the Duluth area caused at least $100 million in damage, and it will likely take a long time to get things back to normal. State officials are estimating it could take years for that to happen.

And they are already getting the ball rolling to get funding so the work can get started. The state doesn’t have any money in savings to help with efforts like this. That means the money has to come from a couple of different places, including some from the federal government. The state might even have to borrow money to pay for projects.

Getting the ball rolling on it really starts with President Obama and getting him to declare 14 counties disaster areas. Federal agents will start assessing damage on Monday. They’ll see an eyeful on the ground, including bridges and roads washed away, homes and cars underwater, and towns submerged.

About 30 percent of homes in Duluth have water damage after between seven and 10 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours. And then down the road in Moose Lake, 40 homes are flooded. The massive amounts of water have caused problems in the city’s sewage system. Floodwaters have also engulfed the high school, an RV Park and a campground in Moose Lake. Volunteers worked to fill sandbags, but with flood waters rising, no one could be sure the barriers would help.

Residents are on alert Friday morning as evacuations could take place in Moose Lake.

“We could just slowly see it rising. It’s creeping up in the backyard, we can see that from the deck in the back,” said resident Albena Adamschak. “It’s beautiful but sad. It’s bad.”

Rain is causing flooding problems to the South in Carlton and Pine Counties. Pine County Deputies rescued a man whose panel truck was swept off the highway Thursday morning near the town of Sturgeon Lake. Deputies on a boat pulled an elderly man from his trailer near Rutledge Wednesday night after flood waters knocked it off its foundation.

Emergency officials say that many highways and roads in St. Louis, Carlton and Pine Counties remain closed. They say drivers should not go around barricades or drive through floodwaters under any circumstances.

Governor Dayton told the Duluth News Tribune he’s not ruling out calling a “special session” of the Minnesota Legislature if it’s needed to appropriate state money. He’s also ordered all state agencies to cooperate at this time, especially those that deal with “public safety” and “transportation issues.”

To qualify for federal disaster aid, the state has to meet $7 million in uninsured damage. That evidently will come a lot quicker than we think. The only damage that counts is uninsured public property like roads, bridges, parks and public utilities.

If the aid is granted, the Federal Government will pay for 75 percent of the damage costs and the state will have to pay the rest.

Gov. Mark Dayton called the damage he saw on Thursday “horrific.” Some neighborhoods are unreachable by car. Emergency crews have even had to rescue some residents from rising waters.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack toured the damage on Friday morning. They met with local officials, including Duluth mayor Don Ness, before taking that tour.

Flood warnings continue Friday for the St. Louis River. Major flooding is expected, and Northland residents fear things could get worse before getting better.

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