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Monday November 18, 2019
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lakefront homes more at risk from rising waterschigan

Tuesday, November 05, 2019 12:09 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A Halloween storm pushed a record high Lake Michigan closer to a number of lakefront homes threatened by advancing shoreline erosion.

Ted Grzywacz, president of the New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance, said about 15 feet of his backyard in Sunset Shores fell down the already badly eroded bluff hammered by high waves from gusty northerly winds during the storm.

He said the swimming pool of another home at Sunset Shores is just a foot or so now from dropping over the edge of the bluff.

The house on that property is about 10 feet from the edge.

Grzywacz said a wall of huge rocks piled along the shoreline the past several years at Warwick Shores to try and hold back the lake was breached during a similar mid-October storm.

The wall was breached even further during the October 31 storm.

''It's a disaster out there right now,'' he said.

Grzywacz said the problem isn't so much the lake being at a record high.

He said the break wall at New Buffalo has stopped the natural underwater flow of sand that used to replenish the beaches west of the harbor.

The U.S Army Corps. Of Engineers was adding sand to help with beach replenishment but stopped in 1995.

''10-years ago. 15-years ago. When you had 20 foot waves on the lake by the time they got to shore they were seven or eight feet. Now, because there's no sand, a 20 foot wave hits the shore at 20 foot,'' Grzywacz said.

His group is planning another trip to Washington D.C. on December 5th to continue pushing for federal dollars to pay for a solution.

Building more than 30 break walls west of New Buffalo Harbor to the state line would diminish the size of the waves hitting the shoreline, restore natural beach replentish and create natural habitat.

He said the estimated cost of that work is more than $50 million and it could take five-years or more to secure the funds.

Two feet of water covered Whittaker St. between the bridge and municipal beach from high winds pushing lake water into the harbor.

Some vehicles turned around while others with water high up on their tires drove through flooded stretch of road.

Bob Stratton with Service 1 Marine in New Buffalo said he hopes the lake starts going down or conditions like flooded docks forcing boaters elsewhere this summer could very well happen, if not, worsen next season.

''I've never seen it this bad. It's definitely unprecedented and like I said before somewhat biblical,'' Stratton said.

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