Erosion claims homes and threatens Michigan economy

As erosion continues to wreak havoc along the shores of Lake Michigan, more homes are at risk.

Part of a Stevensville house has already fallen, and now it will have to be demolished to avoid disaster

“This is one of the nicest homes I’ve made. I’m proud of it, I’m glad I made this house, but… it’s going to go into the lake,” said Bruce Smothers.

Debris from Smothers’ back porch could be seen near the water on Thursday. Erosion has been evident in his Stevensville home for 15 years.

“So when it starts to collapse on the lake side, there’s really nothing you can do about it,” he said.

So he decided to demolish it now to avoid an even more costly eventuality: paying a hefty price by dragging it out of the unpredictable waters of Lake Michigan when it falls.

“I can’t let this slow my retirement down,” he said. “If I lose this house, I lose money, I lose the equity in this house.”

This is an issue that affects more than owners and could take some of Mitten State‘s tourism dollars.

“It’s an $ 18 billion industry for the state of Michigan a year. If people don’t have the beaches to go to the lake, then they’ll plan their vacations elsewhere,” the County Commissioner said. Berrien, Ezra Scott. said in a telephone interview.

Scott is pushing for federal funds to help fight erosion. Some who live near the lake are not sure that remedies will help.

“There is no solution, but I think climate change has had a definite effect,” said Judi Greene, a longtime resident at the lake. “We had a definite summer, a definite fall. In winter, everything was frozen, and now that doesn’t happen.”

As the shores of the lake continue to seep into homeowners, longtime residents reflect on the drastic changes they have seen over time.

“[In] In 2004-2005, the lake was 6 1/2 feet lower, ”Smothers said.“… I had a beach that would probably head to about 100 feet. “

Smothers says he’s not sure he’ll stay in the area, but mentioned his next home won’t be by the lake.