Great Lakes Coast Guardsmen respond to Minnesota floods, rescue 15 people

DULUTH, Minn. — The Coast Guard has rescued 15 people Thursday by helicopter or boat from their homes after major thunderstorms flooded the area in and around Duluth, Minn., earlier this week.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency and directed the Minnesota National Guard to assist after more than 12 inches of rain flooded areas of northeastern Minnesota.

There were no immediate reports of major pollution, deaths or serious injuries.

Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews continue to conduct harbor patrols and position search and rescue, pollution response and aids-to-navigation assets to aid in response efforts. Additional personnel and equipment from a variety of 9th Coast Guard District units have deployed, or are en route, to the affected areas.

The Coast Guard is currently operating three Special Purpose Craft-Airboats, from stations Duluth, Bayfield, Wis., and St. Clair Shores, Mich. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., provided one MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter with aircrew, while the Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay diverted from central Lake Superior to provide assistance. The Katmai Bay is due to arrive in the area Friday morning.

The Coast Guard is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as state and local partners, to assess impacts to navigation in the Duluth-Superior Harbor, ensure the safety and security of mariners as vessels transit through the port and mitigate any potential maritime environmental impact as a result of the high water.

“All aids are off station in the Saint Louis River,” said Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson, officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Duluth. Members of the unit have been underway Thursday in an attempt to retrieve all of the buoys that have drifted off station.

The Coast Guard is transmitting broadcast notices to mariners and safety marine information broadcasts to alert mariners of the dangers of debris and unreliable aids to navigation.

An Army Corps of Engineers emergency survey of shoaling conditions will be conducted in the Superior Harbor Basin in the vicinity of Nemadji River outflow near Superior shipping entrance and in other portions of the navigable channel around St. Louis Bay.  Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard will work together on debris removal.


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