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St. Louis County leaders provide update on flooding situation

With flooding and high water affecting multiple parts of St. Louis County, county leaders held a news conference Thursday to provide updates on the situation, resources available to citizens, and important safety reminders.

The most significant flooding is occurring in the Rainy Lake Basin, which includes the communities of Crane Lake and Kabetogama. According to the National Weather Service in Duluth, water levels on Namakan Lake and Lake Kabetogama are expected to continue to rise another 11-13" through the next week and may continue to rise after that. Farther south, the Island Lake area is also experiencing extremely high water levels though water levels there are now decreasing. The County Board on Tuesday declared a state of local emergency for the entire county and has begun compiling damage reports in anticipation of filing for federal and state assistance.

"This is a long term hazard and water levels will take a long time to decrease throughout the summer," said Joe Moore, NWS meteorologist. "Any additional rain events this summer could cause additional rises on these lakes and rivers."

"The communities and their town boards have been doing an amazing job. Even resort guests have been stepping up to help," said Dewey Johnson, Emergency Operations Manager. "St. Louis County continues to work with these local townships who are the lead on local incidents. We are assisting with resource requests such as sand and sandbags, and we work with the state on additional resource requests and damage reporting,"

To help residents and government jurisdictions affected by the flooding, the county has created a new resource page on its website: stlouiscountymn.gov/damageinfo. The page includes links for property owners to file damage reports with the County Assessor for possible property tax relief. It also includes a link to a new map showing county roads and forest management roads that are currently closed due to flooding or water damage.

The Sheriff's Office also provided important safety reminders to boaters to watch for debris floating in the water. Boaters also should be aware that many buoys and navigational markers have not yet been able to be placed due to high water levels.

"Due to rising levels, water routes that people may have used in the past may not a safe navigational route now, and new hazards are emerging daily" said Jason Lukovsky, Undersheriff. "We're also asking boaters to be aware of the damage they may cause to shorelines from their boat's wake."

"It's disaster situations like this that remind us of the range of critical services St Louis County provides to our citizens," said Commissioner Ashley Grimm, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. "Our Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management, Public Works, the Assessor's Office, our G-I-S Staff and more - we are working together to provide the best response wherever in the county it is needed."