Flooding prompt evacuations, closures in NE Minn.

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DULUTH — Floods fed by a steady torrential downpour forced road closures in northeastern Minnesota on Wednesday, and some people were being urged to evacuate their homes because of the rising St. Louis River.

Interstate 35 and downtown tunnels in Duluth were closed and police recommended emergency travel only, warning that numerous sinkholes and washouts were making travel dangerous.

Authorities asked residents of the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth to leave their homes because of flooding concerns from the St. Louis River.

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Firefighters and police officers helped the Lake Superior Zoo staff track down animals, including two seals. Some backyard animals are still unaccounted for, according to Susan Wolniakowski, the zoo’s director of guest services.

“They could be under water or escaped to get away from the water,” Wolniakowski said. “I think it’s probably been the worst flooding we’ve ever had at the zoo.” A train depot was completely underwater, she said.

The University of Minnesota Duluth campus closed Wednesday because of the flooding. The Carlton County Sheriff’s Department also recommended against traveling, except for emergencies.

Forecasters said more heavy rain was on the way for the area today.