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Update: Sappi employees return to work after evacuation

CLOQUET, Minn. (From news reports) -- Employees at the Sappi paper mill in Cloquet are returning to work after being forced to evacuate Friday, April 14 as a precautionary measure due to rising water levels along the St. Louis River.

According to a press release from Sappi Corporate Communications Manager Peter Steele, the mill did not sustain damage, nor were there any injuries as a result of the flooding.

"No water has entered the buildings, and no safety incidents have occurred. The river is slowly receding from a peak height on Sunday at midnight," Steele said in the news release issued Monday, April 17. "The mill team expects to begin the start-up procedure later today. Employees are returning to work based on the mill's start-up requirements."

Water levels for the St. Louis River at Scanlon reached a peak of 13.56 feet on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. according to the National Weather Service. As of Monday at noon, the water levels have dropped down to 13.39 feet, but remain well above the flood stage level of 10.5 feet.

Carlton County Emergency Management Director Marlyn Halvorson said three dams on the St. Louis River are being closely monitored, in addition to flooding in the cities of Barnum and Moose Lake.

"They are dealing with some of the flooding issues within their respective jurisdictions, and then the other areas we are monitoring is the dams, especially the one at Scanlon and the dams at Thomson and Fond du Lac," Halvorson said.

Halvorson went on to share that he has heard some reports of homes within Carlton County impacted by the flooding, but has not personally been in contact with individuals affected.

Carlton County remains in a state of emergency after the declaration was approved Thursday, April 13 in response to rising water levels at an emergency Board of Commissioners meeting.

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