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Flooding in Moose Lake this week. (Photo by Larry Slater / courtesy of the Pine Journal)

Duluth area update: Evacuations under way in Moose Lake, Willow River

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Duluth area update: Evacuations under way in Moose Lake, Willow River
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Evacuations are under way in Moose Lake and Willow River today as rivers and lakes continue to rise, swollen by runoff from this week's record-setting rains.


City administrator Mark Vahling said Thursday that at least 30 percent of the city has been affected by the floods. He said floodwaters that flowed from the north and west after heavy rains Tuesday and Wednesday breached homes and businesses, and forced the closing of the highway 73 bridge over an inlet into Moose Lake.

The Red Cross is setting up a shelter at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Moose Lake. Vahling says there are no reports of injuries or fatalities from the flood.

Mercy Hospital and Augustana Mercy Health Care Center in Moose Lake are doing contingency planning up to and including evacuation, if that's necessary.

Interstate 35 southbound remains closed between Carlton and Mahtowa. I-35 northbound is open in that area.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness played tour guide for Gov. Mark Dayton this morning, showing some of the worst-affected areas of the hillside and eastern Duluth, including the severely buckled Vermilion Road.

"It's just terrible devastation; the awesome, destructive power of nature," Dayton said while viewing the Vermilion Road situation. "We'll do everything we can as rapidly as possible. But it's going to take time" to rebuild.

Officials said damages are estimated at $50 million to $80 million for just public facilities and infrastructure, just in the city of Duluth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.