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Duluth awakes to flood damage, community aims to regroup

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DULUTH - The Miller Hill Mall will remain closed today.

Mall officials had hoped to reopen at noon, but Minnesota Power told mall officials that power would not be restored by then. According to the mall's Web site, Minnesota Power workers found a significant about of debris in the electrical transformers serving the building.

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The Duluth Target store, which had been closed Wednesday, is open today.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Commissioners of Public Safety Mona Dohman and Transportation Tom Sorrell are touring Duluth this morning to help determine what state assets are needed to assist in the recovery. He is scheduled to have a news conference with Duluth Mayor Don Ness at 11 a.m. at the city's Public Safety Building.

Dayton and Ness are touring Cascade Park, Fourth Street near the Whole Foods Co-op, and additional sites.

On Wednesday, Dayton issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency following storm damage in eight counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Dakota, Goodhue, Lake, Rice and St. Louis. The state of emergency allows for emergency vehicles to transport supplies and materials to the affected areas and the activation of the Minnesota National Guard as needed.

Kris Eide, the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, has directed experts on her staff to partner with local experts in Duluth to begin assessing the situation. The initial assessment is the first step to determining if the state will request federal resources.

The Red Cross reports that 185 area residents took shelter last night at Duluth's First United Methodist Church (the copper-top) and Laura Macarthur Elementary School, Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, and Scanlon Community Center. The Salvation Army is providing meals.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, 250 residents had been evacuated from 250 homes in Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood. Thomson evacuated 40 residents.

Elsewhere, the city of Moose Lake has declared a state of emergency because of the flooding, the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center reported this morning. Authorities closed a bridge on Minnesota Highway 73. A fishing pier has broken loose on Moosehead Lake and authorities were concerned it could damage the bridge. Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspectors plan to inspect the bridge this morning and determine when it can be safely re-opened.

Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm asked that only emergency travel be done in the city as roads continue to deteriorate with rising water levels.

Moose Lake joins Duluth, the state, Superior, Douglas County, Carlton County, Lake County, and Wrenshall in issuing emergency declarations.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has closed Jay Cooke and Savanna Portage state parks and the campground at Moose Lake State Park at least through the weekend. The iconic Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke was washed away by the flooding St. Louis River.

In addition, the Willard Munger State Trail from Carlton to Duluth is closed until further notice due to washouts; the Cuyuna County State Recreation Area's mountain bike trails and Miner's Mountain Road are closed; and tours at Hill Annex Mine State Park are canceled for today and questionable for the weekend.

The DNR also reports that two groups of campers area stranded at Savanna Portage State Park. The seven campers are in contact with park staff and have food and supplies.

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