Duluth area suffers extensive damage in storms

DULUTH, MN (AP) - Up to 9 inches of rain fell in parts of the Duluth area and along the North Shore in the past 24 to 36 hours, causing extensive damage and flooding.  Officials are discouraging travel into the Duluth area because several major routes are closed due to the flooding.

The mayor of Duluth has declared a state of emergency and the Duluth Police Department currently advises no travel in the city.  The Duluth News Tribune online blog had reports of people being rescued, vehicles falling into sinkholes, collapsed roads, and rivers and streams overtaking roadways.  Heading into Duluth, drivers were being routed off the freeway Wednesday as water and mud flowed along the shoulder like a river. A number of streets in Duluth are covered by standing water or mud.  

Governor Mark Dayton says he's offering Duluth all possible state assistance as the city copes with the situation.
Dayton issued a statement Wednesday, saying he spoke with Duluth Mayor Don Ness about help the state can provide now and during the recovery. He says he will travel to Duluth Thursday morning to discuss further how the state can help.

Dayton also asks people who live in or were planning to travel in the Duluth area to follow the requests of local authorities to stay off of affected roads and highways so emergency crews can do their work.

The Red Cross has opened two shelters for residents displaced by the flooding. One is at the First United Methodist Church in Duluth. The Red Cross is also staffing a shelter at Carlton High School.

State emergency managers say there were 30 evacuees at the Duluth church and 40 at Carlton High School.