Floods we've known too well
- Blog Post by: Lori Sturdevant
- June 20, 2012 - 10:35 AM
Unsettling news from Duluth Wednesday morning about the damage a deluge can do inspired a flashback to the Saturday 40 years ago this month when my agitated mother burst into my bedroom early in the morning to announce "Rapid City is in terrible trouble!"
I was at my parents' home in eastern South Dakota, far from the storm. But Rapid City was home to friends and family, and South Dakota functions as a big, stretched-out small town. My mother's anxiety was shared around the state and region as the death toll on June 10, 1972 mounted to an appalling 238, making it one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history.
The rainfall amounts being cited and forecast in Duluth Wednesday morning were approaching the 10-inch level that caused Rapid City's tragedy. But the topographical differences between the two places and today's superior warning systems suggest that with luck, Duluth will get through this week with no loss of human life. Some animal residents of the Duluth Zoo were not as fortunate.
But while all floods cause a terrible mess -- as many Minnesotans can personally attest -- an urban flood causes infrastructure problems that can disrupt a whole region's economy. Depending on damage assessments in coming days, a special session of the Legislature to authorize reconstrution assistance via state bonding may be in order in a few weeks.
Here's one journalist's encouraging word to waterlogged Duluthians today: You're in the right state. Minnesota knows how to respond to floods. It has a well-practiced partnership of state, local, religious and non-profit responders that springs into action to help communities recover from natural disasters. And it's populated with people who instinctively pull together when trouble strikes. Help is on the way, Duluth, and some of it undoubtedly will come from experienced hands from places like East Grand Forks, St. Peter, Granite Falls, Rushford and Wadena.
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