Points North, Ep. 33: Shoreline erosion in Michigan puts businesses and homes at risk

Oct 11, 2019

This week on Points North, how rising water levels and shoreline erosion are threatening homeowners on the coast of Lake Michigan.

Plus, how businesses in Fishtown are already falling into the water.

Lake Michigan homeowners wait in 'quiet terror' as high water levels eat away property

A home on the shore of Lake Michigan in Manistee could be threatened by rising water levels.
Credit Gary Langley / Interlochen Public Radio

As Lake Michigan water levels remain at a near record high, more and more shoreline is being eaten away everyday. Property owners are panicking while large trees slide down steep banks into the water and wooden staircases are torn out.

As the fall storm season approaches, some worry their homes will be next.

Hear more about the erosion on Michigan's coast. 

Fishtown's shanties to be saved from high water, moved for foundation work
A sign on the Cheese Shanty in Fishtown outlines that the building is in need of repairs, as the foundation broke in half due to high water levels.
Credit Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

As homeowners on Lake Michigan’s shoreline worry about high water levels, Fishtown in Leland continues to struggle. Some buildings, called shanties, are at risk of being washed away this winter.

Now, the Fishtown Preservation Society is rushing to physically move the shanties from their original location to rebuild their rotted foundations.

Hear about the shanty work.

For properties dealing with erosion, insurance doesn't cover much
Things like stabilizing walls are temporary solutions for homeowners to shoreline erosion.
Credit Gary Langley / Interlochen Public Radio

The rapid rate of erosion is threatening properties along Lake Michigan, homeowners don't have many protections against it.

But the Association of State Floodplain Managers Alan Lulloff says, in some cases, flood insurance can cover erosion damage that occurs during a storm.