The gales of October are proving to be quite expensive for the city of Duluth.

The Oct. 10 storm that whipped up a frenzy of waves on Lake Superior and battered the city’s shoreline inflicted an estimated $18.4 million in damage, according to a city statement. The wreckage included tourist-popular spots such as the Lakewalk Trail from the canal to Leif Erikson Park, a section of seawall by the Minnesota Slip Bridge, the sidewalk behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Brighton Beach, as well as other areas, including the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad rail line.

The city is asking St. Louis County commissioners to make an emergency declaration to the state’s Homeland Security Emergency Management department this week and will also ask Gov. Mark Dayton to consider pursuing Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.

The storm’s winds frequently gusted near 50 miles an hour or more — one freighter measured an 86 mph gust near Castle Danger — and brought waves as high as 20 feet. It threw rocks and debris and forced the closing of roads and beaches. It came just as workers started rebuilding a portion of the Lakewalk after a storm last year inflicted $10 million in damage.

A city official said shortly after the latest storm that a Lakewalk inspection near the Fitger’s Complex revealed new damage, including erosion, caved-in asphalt and flipped boardwalk panels.

While the lake is a big draw for tourists in Duluth, shore amenities such as the Lakewalk provide “intangible” benefits to the tourism industry, said Anna Tanski, president and chief executive at Visit Duluth, the city’s tourism arm.

But after seeing photos and videos of giant waves pounding the shoreline, she said, people understand the destruction is the work of Mother Nature. Luckily, she said, Lakewalk damage doesn’t affect all segments of the path. “We really want to emphasize that there are still many access points … many beautiful vantage points to gain access and enjoy the Lakewalk,” she said.

Tanski said she expects engineers to look for long-lasting solutions to make the infrastructure more durable.

Officials hope to reopen the temporary Lakewalk path in Canal Park before week’s end, as well as a temporary sidewalk behind the convention center and vehicle access to Brighton Beach.


Twitter: @pamlouwagie