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Flash flooding leaves campers stranded


By Allen Henry

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    ELY, Minnesota (WCCO) — Heavy rainfall across the state on Tuesday night left hundreds of campers stranded at a northern Minnesota campground.

Already busy with flood damage from this week’s downpour, crews in St. Louis County are preparing for what could be an even busier weekend.

“We have about 43 roads right now that are closed due to either water over the road that’s too deep for vehicles to drive through, or there’s been damage, culverts washing out those types of things,” said Jim Foldesi, St Louis County Public Works Director.

One of the roads washed out from the rain is the only road leading to the 200 campers and 80 staff members at Camp Du Nord, northwest of Ely.

Not only are the campers stuck on the grounds — they’ve been split from each other.

“[It] Basically cut our property in half,” said Michel Tigan, Vice President of Adventure and Camp Operations, YMCA of the North. “So it’s stranded our campers on either sides of the property. And so we had to do our best to pivot and make sure that folks that were in programming areas on either side of the property were comfortable and fed because we didn’t want them traversing across those waterways that had separated our property.”

They have power, plenty of food and water, but those campers are still roughing it in the Northwoods until the road can reopen —hopefully by the weekend.

“Emergency communications are set up with those folks. We make sure that they’re okay. If there’s an emergency, there’s contingency plans that the sheriff and the rescue squad have in place,” Foldesi said.

While they’re stuck, campers are making the best of it.

“Last night, folks were already asking, ‘How can we help?’ And so this morning, our incredible facility team members gathered together to think through some work groups that they could get involved in,” Tigan said. “And so they’ve also been helping to repair the trails and move a lot of gravel and rock that’s been pushed by the water out of the way of our buildings.”

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