The Great Duluth Flood

This is what I don’t get: when a city is threatened by flood, it is normally because a river overflows its banks. In this part of the world, we have the Red River, which often floods in the spring because it flows south to north, and the Minnesota River, which has been known to crest five to ten feet above its normal level. But there isn’t any river that flows through Duluth, and it goes without saying that it would take Noah’s flood times ten to make a dent in Lake Superior. So why has Duluth just experienced some of the worst flooding of recent times? I’m not sure, but it happened. To my knowledge there has not been any loss of human life, but the local zoo was devastated and most of the animals drowned. A polar bear and a seal survived and were found wandering around in downtown Duluth.

These photos were taken by Duluth residents. I think this may be Gooseberry Falls, which I have visited under much more sedate circumstances:

A Duluth sidewalk:

What used to be the parking lot of a Whole Foods store, before the flood and a resulting sinkhole:

Another sinkhole, or some such collapse, which swallowed a car:

Krenzen’s Auto Mall:

The Lester River:

A flooded street:

And, finally, the above-mentioned seal, observed on Grand Avenue:

Duluth has always been a city exposed to extreme weather events, but generally they have taken place in the winter and made the city’s steep hills impassable. Of the places where one might have anticipated a flood, Duluth is near the bottom of the list. Yet it happened, to a stunning degree.

Responses