Severe weather threatens livelihood of Kabetogama Lake resort

By KBJR News 1

June 12, 2014 Updated Jun 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM CDT

International Falls, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The heavy winds and rain in International Falls caused thousands of dollars in damage to resorts and cabins that line the shores of Kabetogama Lake.

The livelihood of the Pine Tree Cove Resort is under threat of rising waters.

Phil Hart has owned the Pine Tree Cove Resort with his wife Ellen for 27 years, through virtually every kind of weather that the big lake can throw at them.

But on Thursday morning Kabetogama reached a boiling point.

"We just didn't expect it up here,” Phil Hart, said. “It's just unprecedented. And it's wiping us out."

Hart says the lake is the highest he's seen it in his years owning the resort, especially after 5 1/2 inches of rain fell two weeks ago.

But like in previous years of high water, he and his crew took the usual steps to keep the docks from floating off their reinforced rock cribs.

"We protected them with barrels and boats, and anything we could fill with water and sandbags," Hart said.

But when the wind switched from the west to a hard 45 miles an hour out of the north Thursday morning, Hart said they feared the worst.

"Our caretaker manager went to the cabins, and told the people they better get their boats out, our docks are getting wobbly,” he said.
Hart estimates the damage to the docks to be around $50,000. It’s a big hit to his pocketbook following this year's severe winter.

For now, he says the goal is to just make it through the night.

"But they're full of rocks from the rock cribs, and they're full of re-bar, and we just have a big mess that we'll try and cope with, Hart said. “The busiest month of the season is June for us."

He hopes to have a makeshift harbor set up for his guests as soon as possible.

Hart says other issues his resort may have to face in the rebuilding process include newer zoning and building laws that could alter, or stop, any lakefront reconstruction.

Rainy Lake is currently battling high water and flooding of its own.

Billy Wagness
bwagness@kbjr.com