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Homeowners anxious of rising water levels; experts weigh in

Posted at 11:17 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 23:40:25-05

HOLLAND, Mich. — Hundreds of people are trying to save their homes on the lakeshore. On Thursday, many gathered more information from experts who attended the Erosion 2020, put on by Coldwell Banker at the Holland Civic Center.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, this year is the 'wettest' 12-month period on record in the state of Michigan. What's more is that Lake Michigan is currently measuring at 16 inches higher now than it did one year ago during February 2019.

Erosion has only been worsened by a lack of ice on the water.

"If you have a half mile ice, or even a quarter mile of ice, or even 100 yards of ice, that serves as an incredible wave attenuator and that keeps all that wave energy off of your shoreline," said Greg Weykamp with Edgewater Resources. "So even with the high waters, if we had anything approximating normal ice cover, we wouldn’t have any of the erosion that we are seeing in these storms right now.”

Water levels are also expected to rise another 6 inches by summer.

"Everything is full. The soil is full. The rivers are full. The lake is full. Any additional rise in that is going to create some issues," said Nick Bonstell, Ottawa County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Division.

Homeowners are scrambling to find protection for their homes. In some cases, contractors who can provide seawalls or other structures are charging double for the same work that would have been done a year ago due to demand.

"It’s hard to tell because we have about 150,000 dollars of protection from the dune," said Chris Vanden Bosch, whose lakeshore house is 39 feet from the bluff. "It’s not doing what it needs to do, so I don’t even know what to do. I’ve stopped looking down the bank. It’s too depressing, but we’ll look at it in the spring and see what we need to do."