Flooding cuts off some rural areasby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Many residents in rural areas affected by Wednesday's flooding are finding themselves isolated as roads become impassable or are washed away.
Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said all the roads leading to the city except Interstate 35 were closed by flooding from the St. Louis River on Wednesday evening.
"We're kind of an island to ourselves," Ahlgren said. "I'm actually looking at the river and it's as brown as I've ever seen it. It looks like a sea of mud."
Ahlgren, a lifelong resident of the area, said this is the worst flooding he has seen in his 62 years.
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"This is the highest it's ever been," Ahlgren said. "There are logs that floating down the river at a rapid pace and getting stuck at a railroad bridge, and they're afraid that bridge may break."
The city evacuated a campground on a nearby island and the sewers have already overflowed, but most of the homes in Cloquet remain dry because they're on high ground.
Other cities are not so lucky. About 40 residents have been evacuated from parts of Thomson Township. City authorities have said that the tap water could be contaminated and that it should not be used to drink, bathe or cook.
The Carlton County Sheriff's Office said some residents were evacuated from parts of Carlton. About 80 households were evacuated in the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth. Campers have also been evacuated from state parks in the area.
A Red Cross shelter was set up at Scanlon Community Center after the shelter at Carlton High School was also evacuated, Scanlon sewer maintenance supervisor Dan Follett said.
"The city garage over here in Carlton is taking the full force now. It's probably about a foot-and-a-half deep of water inside," he said. "Otter Creek breached the railroad tracks and it's caused a lot of flooding in the south side of Carlton. "
Follett said water from the river had spread across nearly a half-mile on the south side of Carlton, rushing into basements and houses.
"We're over here with pumps trying to do what we can do to get the water moved from one spot to the other before it floods too badly," Follett said. "But it's a pretty daunting task."
In Esko on the Midway River, Loren Bergstedt said every low point on roads leading outside of town seemed to be flooded. There was also some flooding in town.
"There were a few homes close to the river there also that were being sandbagged," Bergstedt said. "And they were unloading furniture, so there were several homes that were flooded."
Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said there haven't been any reported injuries, but that the agency is still assessing the damage to roads and properties.
Lake said people should stay in their homes.
"If they're home and safe, that's where they need to stay," Lake said. "If they're in the affected areas and they have concerns or they feel like they're in danger or the water's coming up dangerously close to their house, they can call 911 in this area and they can report that, and we can go and try to get them some assistance."
St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman told MPR News that roads along the North Shore were in bad condition. The Iron Range and northern parts of St. Louis County were not experiencing the same flooding and damage as the southern part of the county.