February 27, 2020

Winter storm brings destruction to lakeside area.

Posted

AU GRES— The ice-coated lakeside may look beautiful but it comes with a wrath. Residents alongside the lake worry about the recent destruction from the winter storms and fear the worst is yet to come. 

Sims Township resident Tonya Barton took some photos of the destruction and said that within a week, the waves blasted through their breakwalls due to ice and snow colliding with it. Barton said the shore has been washed out at least 10 feet or more and she fears for what is to come, being as it is only January. 

The Arenac County Clerk’s office has been receiving letters from shoreline property owners asking for help as they suffer from damages from the previous winter storm. One letter written by homeowners in Au Gres said they also have a damaged sea wall and the water is inching towards their property. They pleaded for help and support for lake property owners as they can’t afford to lose their home. 

Sims Township supervisor Robert Mackie said the township can’t do anything about the water erosion on homeowner’s property because it is a homeowner situation. He recommends contacting the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for ideas and options. 

“ I know some people are getting home equity loans because the damage is getting so expensive,” said Mackie.  

Chris Clanpitt of the water resources division at ELGE said that there aren’t any financial resources to help individuals with sea wall repairs currently, but if the governor were to declare an emergency for the bay area, there could be some assistance there. 

Clanpitt said for the time being, EGLE can help apply for permits to repair or rebuild sea walls and can provide a list of contractors, so people can get the process done quickly, especially where houses are directly threatened. 

For more information from EGLE or to apply for permits, visit michigan.gov/highwater. 

Dawn Hergott from the Arenac Conservation District said that financially, she doesn’t know if there is any assistance out there at all as it is typically something landowners pay for.

“I know there is a push for emergency funding,” Hergott said. “People can talk to their legislators.” Hergott said people are trying to push for the governor to declare an emergency for the bay area which may make funds available to those in need, though she is not sure how soon that would happen.

Hergott said the Arenac Conservation District can help put together a plan for landowners who are looking to repair their sea wall or rock riprap. 

“We can come out and look at their place and we can see what their best option is. We can help them through that permit process,” said Hergott. “I would be cautious if people are contacting contractors and not just go with the first one. Get several quotes. Make sure to get the right materials and the right size to cover everything. If they have a quote and want to discuss it with us, we can help with that too.”

Hergott said the water hasn’t been this high in decades and was told it was supposed to rise 11 more inches this next year. The already high water mixed with the melted snow and ice from this winter could cause it to rise even more. 

For more information or for assistance with applying for a permit, contact the Arenac Conservation District at 989-846-4565 ext. 5 or email them through their website at https://arenacconservationdistrict.com



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