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Erik Burgess, Published June 22 2012

Duluth flooding forces some changes to North Shore travel plans

FARGO – For one Fargo woman and former Duluth resident, the recent flash-flooding on the North Shore has brought back chilling memories of flooding in the Red River Valley.

“It’s not PTSD, but it’s something that stays with you. It’s just horrible,” said Jodine Wien, 40, recalling her flooding experiences in Fargo. “I just think of people I know (in Duluth) and everything. I just feel so bad for them. There are no words.”

The sudden flooding also forced Wien – and other potential travelers – to postpone a trip to the popular tourist area.

Wien still has friends in that area and visits them often. Her plans to go this week were postponed after torrential rains on Tuesday caused the flooding. “I’ve driven through floodwaters before. I didn't want to do it again,” Wien said.

State park officials are warning travelers to check the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation websites before making any trips, in case roads leading to the parks or the facilities themselves are closed.

As of Friday afternoon, Jay Cooke State Park, Moose Lake State Park and Savanna Portage State Park were all closed due to flooding, a DNR official said. Moose Lake and Jay Cooke are located south of Duluth along Interstate 35. Savanna Portage is located south of Highway 2, about 60 miles west of Duluth.

Jay Cooke is not underwater, but the park is inaccessible, said Cheri Zeppelin, the DNR northeast region information officer.

“The roadway into Jay Cooke State Park is gone. Highway 210 is completely washed out,” she said. “People just can’t get in and out of the park.”

The lodge north of Duluth Cinde Morris is planning to stay in with her family over the July 4 holiday is still open, though her 7-year-old son will likely miss out on a trip to the zoo. Though they can’t do all they planned, she said they’ll still go.

“It might not be much, but we figure Duluth needs our money,” Morris said.

Other soon-to-be travelers are expecting the problems the flood poses will improve by the time they take off.

“Coming from here, the flash flood up there doesn’t scare me off,” said Steve Carlson of Moorhead.

Carlson has made a trip up to the Duluth area for six straight years with his wife, and he plans to leave July 2 for a bed and breakfast near downtown Duluth.

“I’m not downplaying it at all. But I know what happens in these summer rain flash floods. We’ve had them here in Fargo Moorhead,” he said. “I think they’ll have a lot of their problems that will affect me cleared up.”

Wien said she plans to travel to Duluth early next week and has been in constant contact with her friends in the affected area.

Zeppelin said many parks north of Duluth are still open, and that the increased water flow has made the waterfalls quite the sight to behold.

“The waterfalls right now are spectacular,” she said. “There’s so much water volume going through them right now, and they’re actually attracting a lot of people.”

Jay Cooke State Park, she said, will be closed at least until July 9. Zeppelin also said Willard Munger Trail, a popular bike trail between Hinckley and Duluth, is also closed.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

State officials are urging travelers to check road and park conditions before leaving home.

*Road updates can be found at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/

*Park updates can be found at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trailconditions/index.html