Officials with the City of Duluth held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to address a number of questions and issues regarding the storm bringing power outages, downed trees, flooding, and damaging waves to Duluth. 

Officials spelled out that the key concern is the safety of the public, with downed trees, power outages, and debris in roadways being a general concern around town. Specifically, areas along the Lake Superior shoreline and in Canal Park were a focus, as debris washed ashore, flooding, and some shoreline erosion are creating hazardous, and even dangerous situations. Flooding related barricades on roads in Canal Park are expected to be removed around 7 pm Wednesday night if conditions permit. Other barricades will be removed as safety and conditions allow.

Officials reiterated a message from earlier in the day, asking the public to stay away from Canal Park, the Lakewalk, and Brighton Beach areas. Flooding and debris has prompted barricades to be put in place on some Canal Park streets and access points to Brighton Beach, and the public is asked not to go around barricades. Brighton Beach was specifically mentioned as a roadway with debris and damage, and the public should stay away until the barricades are taken down.

Especially of concern is the Lakewalk and shoreline areas, which underwent about $10 million in damages during storms last October and again in April of this year. While crews have not been able to get out to assess specific damages, they did confirm that new damage has been done to the shoreline and Lakwalk and that debris has been pushed onto the Canal Park stretch of the Lakewalk and horse path along the string of hotels on the shoreline.

New areas of damaged asphalt and pushed up boardwalk are visible, and additional damage and erosion to the area of the Lakewalk near Fitgers has forced officials to remind the public to stay away from the area of the Lakewalk between Endion Station and the southern edge of Leif Erickson Park. This stretch of the Lakewalk was already closed for work to be done this fall in response to last October's damage, however new damage to this portion of the trail brings additional reasons for the public to stay away.

Previous damages from last October and this April's storms have been documented, so new assessments will be able to be done that can differentiate new damage and help in the process of requesting any additional repair funding that may be necessary. Crews will reportedly be able to begin assessing new damage as soon as Thursday, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Members of the media asked about rumors that traffic across the Aerial Lift Bridge was being restricted to residents only. Officials responded by explaining that while Park Point is not closed to the public, high water levels are leading to slower traffic and traffic backups, and unless you live on the point, you should avoid contributing to traffic congestion.

On a greater scale, a number of trees have been reported down around town and some storm drains have been plugged up by fallen leaves, leading to some street flooding. As a whole, the city's gas and water systems have not been impacted by this storm, and most of the stormwater and wastewater-related issues are limited to areas of Canal Park and Park Point. Officials encourage any resident of Duluth that sees downed trees on roadways or in city parks, or any storm drain issues to contact the Public Works 24-hour response line at (218) 730-4000 or by submitting reports online (here).

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