Former resident caught in the floodA former Alexandria resident and his family were caught up in the torrential rains and flooding in Duluth this summer. The flooding – thought by many officials to be the worst flash flood in more than a century – tore up roadways, drowned zoo animals, damaged houses and trapped thousands of people in their homes – two of which were Alan and Linda Johnson.
By: Leah Stinson, Echo Press Intern, Alexandria Echo Press
A former Alexandria resident and his family were caught up in the torrential rains and flooding in Duluth this summer.
The flooding – thought by many officials to be the worst flash flood in more than a century – tore up roadways, drowned zoo animals, damaged houses and trapped thousands of people in their homes – two of which were Alan and Linda Johnson.
“The flooding was completely unexpected. We just kept hoping it would stop,” said Alan, a 1974 graduate from Jefferson High School.
The Johnsons live in Thomas, just 15 miles southwest of Duluth on a reservoir that the St. Louis River and Midway River flow into.
When the flooding in Duluth happened, the reservoir filled quickly.
“Before we moved here, we had been told that the water had come over the walls of the reservoir before, but as soon as the gates opened, everything was fine,” he recalled. “So when the water started over the wall again a few weeks ago, we thought as soon as they got all the gates opened all would be fine, but it only stopped the water for an hour and then it started again and just kept coming.”
Because their property contained both their home and their business, Linda and Alan worked relentlessly for days to keep both buildings dry.
“We kept waiting for the water to go down,” he said.
But sadly – it never did.
And after a few days of staying holed up in their house, they found that they were trapped.
“I went outside to check if there was any way we could walk across the water, but we were stuck. We just kept hoping the water would go down,” he said.
Thankfully for them, a helicopter came to the rescue, airlifting them from their home to the safety of the Duluth airport.
“At the time we didn’t know what was going on. We were isolated from the rest of the town. We didn’t know that our main street into town was flooded or that the bike path to Carlton was washed out, or the extent of the rest of the damaged area,” he said. “We didn’t even know how long it would be before we could continue our photography business, or where we could.”
While they were waiting, the Johnsons set up a make-shift studio in a hotel conference room.
Two days after being airlifted out of their home, they were able to return and start fixing their damaged property.
Currently, the kitchen and dining room of their house are torn out due to water damage and they have no idea when it will be redone. For the time being though, they set-up a temporary kitchen in the back of their house. Their studio, though usable, also needs a lot of work.
“The flood affected my home and business. It was just a difficult experience,” Alan noted.