Friday, June 22, 2012

Thomson, MN: St. Louis River Flood 2012

Thomson, MN Vermillion Street extraction this is west of our house about a block.
The CFS spike.  we are just starting to see a leveling off as of today...three days after the event

The remains of Vermillion Street, Thomson MN
Neighbors across the street coming home for the first time.

Hwy 210 looking up to Vermillion Street Thomson, MN  The top of the street is the dike.

 Ken Jorgenson and Greg Williamson waiting for their riders on Dalles ave, Thomson MN.  Our front yard.

Remains of Forbay Canal.  Our backyard is near that dam at the end of the canal.
Zimny paddles by our front door

Boys and their toys

The pump that gave its life for us.  Changing this out mid flood is a good story in itself.

Mug in the back 40 walking towards the Forebay Dam

Coast guard extraction Vermillion Street, Thomson MN

 Welcome to Dalles Ave, Thomson MN

First floor, highest spot in the house
Our home, the canoe parking spot.  This is after the water receded.  It had reached nearly to the garage.

Mug watching the festvities

Free chopper rides
First off, thanks so much to all the people who have offered support and hope.  You folks are really helping us a lot.  Right now the situation is still tenuous.  Most folks in Duluth are cleaning up "after' the big storm.  For those of us who live on the St. Louis River, the storm has not yet ended.  So to those people, I say, please hang in there and good luck.  Especially those folks in Fond Du Lac as that is ultimately where all this water is heading.

A couple of things to note.  First off I believe the St. Louis River is the biggest watershed in the Lake Superior Basin, if not it is close.  The reason we live where we live is because of the amazing recreational opportunities that the river offers.  One of those being whitewater paddling.  The Scanlon to Thomson Run is considered high water at 5,000 CFS according to the MN DNR.  Most people are hitting it at around 1,000 during the summer.  Right now it is at 43,800.  It crested at over 44,000.  This is unprecedented and although the river has just started to crest, we may not see a significant drop in days.

Right now our house is surrounded on all sides by major flooding water courses.  On the east we have water flowing over the levy behind us and that water is basically head high and in the east side of the towns houses.  Behind us you have the Thomson, Res and the start of the Forebay Canal, completely overflowing.  To our west the natural river course swings by then circles under us to the south.  So right now you cant get to our home unless you paddle in.

Currently, even after a dramatic rise in water, which came up to the front of the house, we are dry.  It is a miracle.  But that does not mean this is a done deal.  Water is still flowing over the tops of the dikes by several inches.  Currently MN Power is holding back water, I am not sure why, but I assume to protect the even bigger population downstream in Fond Du Lac.  That said, this levy system was build in 1907.  It is old and it is stressed.  If these levys let go, then the town will be inundated with water and the damage we sustain will be extensive.  If you were to go to my house and see how close things really are you would be pretty stunned, pictures cant do it justice.  In other words right now we are in slow mo terror.  Sleeping is tough as you can imagine, the head games are pretty easy to get into.  What to haul out?  What to leave in?  Should we even be visiting the house?

I want to make sure and thank Mike Bushey and Matt Weik for all the help on Wed.  You guys saved us up to this point.  Bushey helped me pile loads of items from our basement upstairs and Matt helped me replace my sump pump after it seized up and failed. God rest its soul it did its work until that point.  We also need to thank Dave and Bobby Larson, who are out of town but let us use their house while they are away.  It is a mile from ours but up on a large hill.  We can vividly hear the roar of the flood from their front porch.  I also need to thank IMBA.  I have been out of touch but folks are understanding and have been insanely supportive, what a great place to work and what amazing people to work with.

Yesterday I spent the day shoring up defenses and looking at the overall situation.  It is grim.  People in my town are suffering.  The state park and the bike trails are destroyed.  As of yesterday there were still rescues and extractions going on.  I used all my local knowledge of trails and hideaways to get the shots I did and I was continually pulled from watching tragedy and then running headlong into the stunning beauty of why I live where I do.  Those realizations made me cry and I was working in an emotional state of seeing the wonder of where I live and its destruction all at the same time.  We also spent a lot of time hauling folks in and out who had not been at their houses yet.  We have canoes, and anybody who did was lending a hand.  Ken Jorgenson and Greg Willams were the town water taxi yesterday as they ferried folks in and out.

I dont have time to write this whole story so it will have to come in successive posts, which unfortunately has we dont have internet will be spread out over time.  Please keep in touch on Facebook and text and we will let you know once the all clear has actually been sounded........


the Goodmans said...

Wow: right in the middle of everything! Thanks for sharing your great story and photos. Above all, stay safe!

greg seitz said...

Been thinking of you all these past couple days, waiting to hear how you were faring. Glad you're OK so far, but very sorry to hear about all the destruction. Good luck to you and all your neighbors, thanks for sharing the photos and the stories.

monty j said...

Glad you and the fam are safe and that the house and sauna are not under water!!! We are thinking of all you back home and hope the old structures hang in there, they are truly being put to the test with this flood of the century for that of luck!!! Cheers...

Erik said...

Godspeed. Hope it all holds well, I 'm blown away by the numbers on CFS having paddled a fair bit up there.

Nathan Pollak said...

Thanks for the blog and photos of Mom and Dad's old street. It is impossible to comprehend the total damage to the area; I can't even imagine what the park looks like. Saw the YouTube video of the swinging bridge getting pummeled by water. My thoughts are certainly with you and everyone back home. Take care...

Brenda and Mike Pollak said...

So glad to hear that you all are okay. Nathan shared your blog. Been so worried about all of you and following closely. So sad to see our friends and neighborhood like this. Unbelievable and so heartbreaking; the devastation and destruction. Please know we are keeping you all in prayers. Stay safe and thanks for the photos and blog. Many hugs and much love.