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Homeowners near Island Lake deal with flooding from spring runoff and dam overflow

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 9:40 PM CDT
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ISLAND LAKE, MN. (KBJR 6) -- A flood warning is in effect for areas along the Cloquet River, north of Duluth.

That includes Island Lake and Hunter Lake.

In those areas, homeowners are watching their properties slip underwater.

“We know now to have boats available to get in and out of our house, our cars are parked several blocks up the road in a higher area,” said Craig Lueck, who lives on Hunter Lake.

He will have to row a boat to get to his car in the morning. His property on Hunter Lake is flooded.

“I rebuilt this house, I elevated it seven feet in the air and built this hill around it to accommodate potential flooding, but you’re never really able to compensate for all the problems with this water,” Lueck said.

The flooding is a result of the combination of snow melt-off, heavy rain, and overflow runoff from the Island Lake Dam connected to the Cloquet River. Minnesota Power operates that dam.

“Minnesota Power is the largest hydro-operator in the state,” said Amy Rutledge with Minnesota Power. “Hydro is an important part of our energy mix that we utilize.”

Minnesota Power said they understand people’s frustration with the overflow, but there’s little they can do with conditions like these.

“You know certainly we can empathize with folks who are experiencing downstream flooding. We understand the real-life impacts that flooding can have,” Rutledge said.

For Lueck, it’s a situation he said he’s been ready to deal with for some time but wishes he didn’t have to.

“It’s a complicated thing and every once and awhile they make a miscalculation, but it’s unfortunate for us downstream,” Lueck said. “For people on Island Lake, it’s a dislodged dock, for us it’s-boating home every day. So, it’s different.”

The flood warning issued by the National Weather Service runs through 12:15 Wednesday afternoon.

You can track overflow conditions from Minnesota Power here.

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