Manistee Co. Lakeshore Homeowners Try to Fight Against Erosion

All along the Lake Michigan shoreline high water levels and erosion have threatened homes and property and there is no end in sight.

In fact, on Wednesday the first known home to fall into the Lake happened near Muskegon.

The house slid down the embankment after the Big Lake washed away the sand underneath.

This reality is creeping closer for Northern Michigan homes as well.

“By the day, we’re losing land,” says Marti Somsel, lakeshore homeowner since 1984.

Inch by inch, foot by foot, Lake Michigan is just eating away at the shoreline and creeping closer to homes.

“The biggest thing is that we can’t go up against Mother Nature,” says Manistee County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Gutowski, “We can’t fight Mother Nature, she’s always going to win.”

You can’t stop it, you only hope to slow it. This is where homeowners are hitting a wall of their own, the red tape and permitting needed before they can build.

“I know that EGLE has gone a ways to expedite the permitting process,” says Gutowski, “But where the Corp of Army Engineers is? I’m not 100% sure.”

“The state is doing better,” says Somsel, “But the federal is not cooperating.”

Somsel has had lakefront property in her family since the 1930’s. She wants to stop the erosion but just isn’t allowed to.

“We have a contractor that is all ready and waiting to do this,” says Somsel, “We are being stymied by the Corp of Engineers.”

A sea wall is the only real immediate solution and the only option until Mother Nature backs off.

“The majority of these homes have been there for quite a while now so it’s just looking at things that can slow this down,” says Gutowski, “Until we can hopefully get back into that cycle where the water comes down.”

More winter storms are surely on their way. These homeowners know this and want to be allowed to fight back.

“We’re very lucky to be able to live here,” says Somsel, “We’re happy to pay for it but please give us the tools to be able to protect our property.”