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Lakewalk damaged ... again

A waves crashes against the shore near the Duluth Lakewalk Wednesday. The storm caused further damage to the walkway, already damaged by past storms. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com1 / 2
A pedestrian stops near the Lakewalk to photograph the scene as large waves crash ashore on Wednesday morning. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com2 / 2

Duluth’s interim chief administrative officer Keith Hamre warned residents at a news conference Wednesday afternoon to avoid the Lakewalk and Canal Park. The warning came amid reports of strong winds, rainfall and flooding that battered the city’s shoreline.

“Please observe at a safe distance. Yes it is an interesting thing to see, the power of Lake Superior but again, we need to be respectful of that power of Lake Superior,” Hamre said. “It can be very deadly very quickly.”

City officials said crews had been working since 6 a.m. Wednesday, clearing out rocks, trees and other debris that had been scattered since the storm began. Brighton Beach, parts of Canal Park — including South Lake Avenue and Canal Park Drive below Buchanan Street — and sections of the Lakewalk were closed due to flooding. “Please be aware that there may be debris or open manholes beneath the water, so traveling on foot is highly discouraged,” a city news release said.

Calling the situation “pretty dynamic,” Mike LeBeau of the city’s project maintenance office said an accurate assessment of the total damage won’t be available until after the severe weather subsides.

“We simply can’t get into a lot of areas as it’s just too wild out there,” LeBeau said.

The destruction came in the middle of repairs being made to the Lakewalk below the Fitger’s Complex, caused from from last October’s storm — which left several sections of the Lakewalk broken and inaccessible.

Damage assessment is expected to begin today. LeBeau said there is new damage to the area, which includes more land lost to the lake. There were also reports of trees uprooted.

Utility operator manager Howard Jacobson said most utility functions like natural gas and wastewater appeared to be working. The only report of overflow to the wastewater system came from Park Point.

“(The) stormwater system is most impacted by this storm,” said Jacobson, “Obviously with the fall leaves coming down, it’s plugging a lot of catch basins and storm intakes.”

Jacobson said if anyone has issues regarding water or storm flooding, to call the city at (218) 730-4100.

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