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Torrential Rain Forces Evacuations in Duluth - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Torrential Rain Forces Evacuations in Duluth

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Courtesy: Andrew Krueger/Duluth News Tribune Courtesy: Andrew Krueger/Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Duluth Mayor Don Ness says he plans to declare a state of emergency because of serious flooding in his northeastern Minnesota city.

Ness tells The Associated Press he plans to issue the order later Wednesday morning. He says it will help communicate the severity of the problem to the public and start the process of obtaining federal disaster aid.

The mayor says the city is encouraging people to stay home, both because of the amount of standing and rushing water from heavy rains overnight, and the difficulty in spotting hidden hazards. He says they're also discouraging anyone from traveling into the city and through the city, both for their personal safety and so that they stay out of the way of emergency and maintenance crews.

Major flooding in northeastern Minnesota has authorities recommending emergency travel only. Torrential rain has closed Interstate 35 and downtown tunnels in Duluth. The University of Minnesota Duluth campus also closed today because of the flooding.

Hour upon hour of torrential rainfall has caused major flooding in the city of Duluth and up the North Shore Wednesday morning, and with more rain on the way the situation could get worse.

The National Weather Service reported just before 3 a.m. that "the flooding situation in Duluth continues to deteriorate.

Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood is being evacuated - though it's not mandatory - as the St. Louis River rises from above-normal dam discharges upstream. The dams are reported to NOT be in danger of failure, but are releasing more water that may flood homes downstream. The Coppertop Church reportedly is being used as an evacuation center.

Duluth fire and police crews assisted Lake Superior Zoo staff in tracking down animals after major flooding. Duluth police officers on the scene at 5:45 a.m. said all animals had been accounted for. They declined to comment on whether any animals had drowned. There was no confirmation that any animals left zoo grounds except for one seal tracked down earlier this morning. Most of the zoo is reported to be under water.

Numerous sinkholes, washouts and mudslides are reported around Duluth, including along parts of Skyline Parkway. Only emergency traffic is advised, according to the Duluth Police Department.

There have been reports of homes evacuated because of flooding in other parts of the city of Duluth - including in the Mount Royal area.

The Carlton County Sheriff's Office is recommending no travel in the county except in emergencies because of flooded roadways. The most-affected areas are across northern parts of the county; Highway 210 through Jay Cooke State Park is closed.

Duluth City Hall is closed today. Nonessential city employees should not report to work today. The scope of the damage will be evaluated after daybreak.

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