The Duluth floods drowned my record collection

Categories: Vinyl
Photo by Andrew Olson
A selection of classic vinyl sleeves laid out to dry.

By Andrew Olson


Duluth flood updates: Low, Charlie Parr, & Trampled by Turtles

Over the past few years, I restored my basement into a great "man cave" of a music room. Sure, basements in Duluth have a reputation for dampness, but I thought I could beat Mother Nature. That is, until the worst flooding our city has seen in 40 years hit.

Last Wednesday morning, I awoke to my wife telling me that my car had been flooded overnight and that I should check the downstairs, AKA the 12'x14' home for most of my records, cassette tapes, Third Man Record Vault collection records, and some concert posters.

Our basement floor was built an inch above the concrete just in case of any flooding, but I could see the bottom of a chair had the markings of two inches of water from overnight rains. I immediately walked over to my crates of records sitting on the floor. They seemed okay, but I brought them all upstairs -- just to be safe. They were not okay, but I'll come back to that.

The new carpet in the basement was slightly wet so I decided to drive to Menards for a wet/dry vacuum. I live on South Street, which is on the east side of town and sometimes classified as the Endion neighborhood. We are at the very bottom of a hill and about 75 feet from Lake Superior. Out on the street, the seat was wet in my car and it didn't start. Some water shot out of the exhaust when I started my wife's car.

This was all at about 8 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, June 20. I hadn't turned on the television or radio yet, so I had no idea what was happening. In reality, I had just taken to the road when everyone was warned to stay off because the next round of rain was on its way.

The nearest I-35 ramp was closed and Superior Street was a parking lot on the east end of town, so I took North 3rd Street to get to the west side of Duluth. There were a few minor signs of damage, but nothing too bad.

Soon, it began to rain very hard. I took one street near Wade Stadium, but cars were turning around as a pool of water was forming on the road in front of us. After getting off that street, I took Superior Street and finally arrived at Menards.

There were a few people with carts full of sump pumps, but I still managed to get a wet vac on sale. I also grabbed a fan, assuming with just a small amount of water I could vacuum it up and a sump pump would not be necessary.

Yet again, I was wrong.

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