|By Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The downpour turned roads into rivers and hillside streams into raging torrents.
PATH TO RECOVERY The tab for flood-recovery efforts in
In the wake of the flood, repairs were tackled in order of priority, according to
"The street work has all been accounted for. It's still a work in progress, but we have a game plan in place," he said, describing the
Funds from the
With the help of federal and state disaster assistance funds,
But, Fanning said, at least one major casualty of the flood will need to recover without much help in the form of disaster aid.
The flooded creek left the zoo's most popular exhibit, Polar Shores, 14 feet underwater, leading to the temporary escape of a polar bear named
The city of
"We have to recognize that we've probably got everything we're going to see from
Replacing the badly damaged polar bear exhibit, and relocating it to higher ground, would cost an estimated
Nevertheless, Fanning contends something must be done.
"Right now, we have a big empty, ugly attraction. We have to either fix it up somehow or demolish it, because it's literally in the heart of our zoo," he said.
OTHER OPTIONS The zoo also struck out in its efforts to obtain
"It certainly was disappointing not to get any bonding funds, but at the same time,
Fanning expects at least a chunk of the funds would go to support improvements at and around the
"As a city, we want to see the zoo survive. It's a valuable asset for our community. But that said, some things need to change there," he said.
The zoo's ticket sales have dwindled since the flood and the closure of its Polar Shores exhibit. In 2011, before the flood, about 94,000 visitors came through its gates. In the year of the flood, attendance fell to 74,000. And while the draw improved to about 85,000 guests last year, that's still roughly 10 percent less than before the flood.
At present the zoo receives an annual subsidy of
"We need to introduce more revenue-generating attractions so the zoo will be more self-sustaining in the future. But we definitely think it's a solvable problem," Fanning said.
HELPING HOMEOWNERS In addition to tending to public infrastructure,
Nevertheless, Fanning said the city was able to pull together funding to purchase 22 properties that were damaged beyond reasonable repair.
"We had flood insurance, but that doesn't even come close to making you whole, even though you pay through the nose for it," he said.
Floodwaters completely filled the basement of the Blazevic home, knocking out its furnace and causing extensive damage. Rory and his wife struggled through the first winter after the flood using space heaters before finally moving out of their home. They were forced to continue to pay the mortgage for a home that was no longer habitable, while also paying for a new dwelling in Pequaywan Township, where they now live.
The buyout program took longer than Blazevic would have liked, but when
"We would never have received the help we did if
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