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Cook flooding due to Little Fork River swelling – Duluth News Tribune
Cook flooding due to Little Fork River swelling – Duluth News Tribune

COOK — Downtown streets, businesses and homes are flooded along the banks of the Little Fork River after Tuesday’s storm caused flooding and submerged roads from the Iron Range to Bayfield County in Wisconsin.

The peak has probably not been reached yet.

Cook Flood_River Street 2

A St. Louis County emergency vehicle crosses flooded River Road in Cook on Thursday.

Jimmy Lovrien / Duluth Media Group

“Our farm is doing well. We’re on a hill,” said Lois Pajari, owner of Cook’s Country Connection petting zoo in Cook. “But our community is in trouble.”

Pajari said the water was waist-deep in some places and she had heard of basements full of water up to the main level of homes.

But the residents help each other.

Pajari said she was loading gravel from a pit at midnight Thursday so volunteers could fill sandbags, and she is taking care of a flock of chickens for someone who had to evacuate their home on Wednesday. “Everyone is sticking together and doing what we can to salvage what we can,” Pajari said.

While Tuesday’s storm initially brought flash flooding in Cook — 4.2 inches (10.7 centimeters) of rain fell just north of Cook, according to the National Weather Service — the river’s headwaters near Lake Vermilion saw some of the heaviest rainfall, causing the river to burst its banks late Wednesday afternoon and continue to rise overnight.

Ketzel Levens, a meteorologist and co-leader of the hydrology program at the National Weather Service office in Duluth, said the 7.6 inches of rain that fell near Tower and the headwaters took some time to reach Cook.

“All that water can eventually make its way through our water systems – through these little streams and rivers. Then you have the confluence of all that water that caused flooding and is now causing flooding in the communities in the low-lying areas along the rivers,” Levens said.

Water levels on the Little Fork River near Linden Grove, about 9 miles west of Cook, continue to rise. As of 8:45 a.m. Thursday, the river reached 38.82 feet, 8 feet higher than before Tuesday’s rain, according to the National Water Prediction Service.

“The rise doesn’t seem to be slowing down yet,” Levens said. “So we’re not seeing any signs that it’s going to turn over or at least peak today. I would probably expect that to happen sometime in the next few days.”

More rain is on the way, but the heaviest rainfall is expected in central and southern Minnesota, Levens said.

According to the National Weather Service, another 0.5 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 centimeters) of rain could fall on Cook between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening.

β€œAny additional rain will make the flood season longer and the recession slower,” Levens said.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien covers environmental issues, including mining, energy and climate, for the Duluth News Tribune. Reach him at [email protected] or 218-723-5332.

By Liam