DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Duluth Mayor Don Ness has declared a state of emergency because of serious flooding in his northeastern Minnesota city.

Ness tells The Associated Press it helps communicate the severity of the problem to the public and starts the process of obtaining federal disaster aid.

The mayor says the city is encouraging people to stay home, both because of the amount of standing and rushing water from heavy rains overnight, and the difficulty in spotting hidden hazards. He says they're also discouraging anyone from traveling into the city and through the city, both for their personal safety and so that they stay out of the way of emergency and maintenance crews.

Ness also spoke with Gov. Mark Dayton, who promised state help and plans to travel to Duluth on Thursday.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Check out some footage from a Duluth resident of the scene.