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In 1972, Duluth was hit with three major storms that washed out roads as water rushed through the city and damaged many homes and businesses. Forty years later, the city faced extreme flooding when rainfall rose to almost 10 inches in several places throughout Duluth on June 20 and 21, 2012.
Even though many residential and commercial neighborhoods dealt with damage and loss, the parks and beaches that attract tourists and citizens were hit just as hard. Large, old trees were uprooted and sent into waterways that were swollen by rapid rainfall and landslides. Mud, natural debris, and shifting rocks and pebbles settled into piles, littering lake access beaches and parks.
Throughout the city, volunteers have pitched in to help homeowners and businesses with cleanup and damage control. UMD Associate Director of External Affairs, Cheryl Reitan, responded to a request from the City of Duluth for volunteers from the campus. On Sunday, July 15, Reitan and several people from UMD and the Duluth community organized a group to help with Brighton Beach; a slice of stone, sand, and forest that felt the brunt of the flood where water-logged trees and branches were wedged between rocks, and much of the beach was scattered with bark and leaves.
Voices of the Volunteers
Rohit Sharma, UMD Graduate Student pursuing a double major in E.C.E. & Engineering Management
“Cheryl Reitan contacted me. She was looking for volunteers to help with Brighton Beach. I saw this as my duty, because little efforts like this really make a difference to improve society, and create a better place to live. I always try to volunteer in events like this as it gives me mental satisfaction. We removed the tree trunks and branches from the lake, as well as from the shore. They were cut into small pieces and finally loaded into a truck. It was great to see people happy and appreciating the effort being done by our team. I would like to see UMD engage people in more events like this.”
Lisa Pratt, UMD Director of Alumni Relations
"I heard about this opportunity in an email from Cheryl. I enjoy being a part of volunteer activities and had been looking for something related to the flood. It is also my hope to make our UMD alumni aware of more of these types of opportunities as we have had requests about how to get involved. My favorite memory was wading into the lake to steer floating trees into the shore. The water was comfortably refreshing.”
Callie Murphy, UMD Admissions Counselor
“We walked up and down Brighton Beach picking up sticks. We also pulled logs and trees out of the lake. Then a Duluth city works man sawed them into pieces, and city workers picked up the garbage we had gathered. I enjoy volunteering because it is really rewarding. My favorite memory of the experience was when we were cutting the logs and bringing them up to put on the boulevard; people were pulling up and taking the wood we had cut. It was a great workout, and I was glad to help.”
UMD and Duluth community volunteers at Brighton Beach
UMD graduate student Rohit Sharma
Volunteers gather and cut down flood-related debris
Written by Christiana Kapsner, July 2012
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