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Points North

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

Gary Langley
Interlochen Public Radio
Homeowners on the shore of Lake Michigan worry about the long-term safety of their homes due to rising water levels.

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

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

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

Credit Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
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.

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

Credit Gary Langley / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
Things like stabilizing walls are temporary solutions for homeowners to shoreline erosion.

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. 

Homeowners facing eroding shorelines don't have much protection from insurance agencies.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.