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Boreal Community Media

Updates: Lake County road closures, damage

Jun 19, 2018 05:17PM ● By Editor
Lolly Cavallin inspects the debris and damage where Waldo Road crosses the Stewart River north of Two Harbors. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)

By The Lake County News-Chronicle on June 18, 2018

Two Harbors was still reeling Monday morning from a weekend of heavy rain that caused the Stewart River to rise more than 150 feet over its banks, forcing closures and warnings along many of the roads the river crosses.

The Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District’s rain gauge recorded more than 3 inches of rain between Friday and when the rain finally stopped Sunday in Two Harbors. Areas further from the lake reported even higher totals.

A tree that fell during Fridays storm missed a house by just a few inches Photo courtesy Alex Loe

A tree that fell during Friday's storm missed a house by just a few inches. (Photo courtesy Alex Loe)

The bridge over the Stewart River on Waldo Road north of Two Harbors was closed after the river rose over its banks Sunday afternoon following the second round of torrential downpours in three days. The normally gently flowing Stewart was transformed into a series of rapids and eddies made even worse by debris blocking the river’s path under the Waldo Road bridge.

Lolly Cavallin said the water flooded the field between her home and the river. It was so deep her neighbor’s dog went for a swim Sunday evening.

In downtown Two Harbors, a tree that fell and brushed the edges of two houses was within just a few feet of causing catastrophic damage to the smaller of the two homes. The tree left some soffiting on a house further away dented but otherwise undamaged. The roof was covered in pine needles and cones from where the tree laid until crews cleared it Monday morning.

A tree also come down at Burlington Bay Campground, where Dan and Jane Kimmel were staying for the weekend while Dan ran Grandma’s Marathon.

“I was like, ‘My God, right between those two houses — that’s incredible,” Jane said when she saw how close it was.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, Moen Road, between Westover and Hermanson roads, and Old Drummond Grade near Stewart River are expected to remain closed for several days due to culvert washouts.

Huhta Road, north of Two Harbors, is expected to reopen this week. Gun Club Road in Silver Creek Township has reopened.

County Road 122 (Waldo Road) at Stewart River, just north of County Road 12, is closed until further notice. Airport Road reopened early Monday afternoon.

The following roads have washouts or other damage:

  • Gun Club Road;
  • Fors Road;
  • Highway 3;
  • Drummond Grade;
  • Ahlstrom Road;
  • Airport Road;
  • South Airport Road; and
  • Upper and Lower UT 10.

All major highways are open, including County Road 3 and County Road 12. 

Debris clogs the bridge on Waldo Road Jamey MalcombNews-Chronicle

Debris clogs the bridge on Waldo Road. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)

BJ Kohlstedt, director of Lake County Emergency Management, cautions motorists to avoid driving through water and to watch for washouts. Crews are working to make washed out roads passable.

“Crews have been out working through the night since 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon to get these roads open. It’s been going well, but of course we do have those closures we announced earlier,” Kohlstedt said.  

She and Foster met at noon Monday to tour the sites and take photos of the damage to get estimates. Kohlstedt plans to include the estimates and photos in a report to state and federal governments to apply for disaster relief funding to make repairs.

"Everyone is working hard to make sure people can get out and get home safely," she said.

As of midday Monday, Drummond Grade and Old Drummond Grade west of Holm Road, and Hawk Hill Road at Knife River were temporarily limited to low-speed, one-lane traffic.

Washouts along Lake County Highway 3, Fors Road and Airport Road, near Two Harbors; several highway shoulders; and driveway intersections in the Waldo and Drummond neighborhoods are expected to be repaired after all roads are open to two-lane traffic. The Highway Department currently estimates two to three weeks for road restoration in Lake County.

As floodwaters recede, the Highway Department will continue to monitor structures in the Encampment River, Stewart River and Knife River areas. Drummond neighborhood residents should continue to use Holm Road until further notice. North Waldo Road residents should use the Peterson Pit Road detour to Big Rock Road. 

According to Lake County Engineer Krysten Foster: “Motorists should not drive around barricades, as the underlying road may be unstable even if there isn’t water over the road.”

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