County opens sandbagging sites for Crooked Lake residents

Barry County

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite a lack of rainfall, lakes in Barry County are rising, washing away beaches and putting homes at risk.

No one seems to know why this is happening now or how to stop it, but residents along Crooked Lake say they need answers and solutions sooner rather than later.

Gary and Deb Englehardt say they have been doing little else than keeping the water at bay with sandbags and sump pumps, but to no avail — the water is winning.

“All we’ve done is sandbag and haul sand and suck water out of our basement,” said Deb Englehardt as her husband ran a pump in their basement. “We get up every night, every single night, all night long and check out sump pump and water flow, so we haven’t slept since we got here at the end of April.”

For some reason that no one seems to understand, the lake is taking on a lot more water these days and it has nowhere to go.

“But it is just not Mother Nature that’s doing this to us,” said Deb Englehardt, who just retired along with her husband. “We’ve dumped about 25 wheelbarrows full of sand to here just on the ground which used to be a lawn.”

So, like an overflowing bathtub, the water is going everywhere.

“Almost everybody is dealing with this water, even people on high spots, there are erosions on hills, their foundations are gonna give way,” she said. “It’s to a point where you have to do something now.”

But that’s not what was on the agenda at a news conference held Wednesday.

“This is a complicated situation and the solution is gonna take some time,” said Barry County Commission Chair Ben Geiger. “It’s just that the solution isn’t easy and it won’t come quickly and we need to do a lot of work to make sure it is the right solution for Crooked Lake residents and all the residents of Barry County.”

The situation has not risen to the point of being a “declared emergency,” but the county is providing help in the form of sand-bagging stations.

“They got numerous ideas on how to take of this, but we can’t just dump this on somebody else, they have rights, too,” said Barry County Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger.

For now, the county is waiting for engineers and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to come up with solutions. Waiting does not sit well with disappointed residents.

“It’s nothing more than we already knew, we’ve already had sand bags,” Englehardt said, adding that more meetings is not a solution when water is eroding their dreams of retirement by the lake.

Now, Crooked Lake’s Fourth of July boat parade has been canceled, as has the fishing derbies.

Residents impacted by the high waters can dial 211 or visit any of the following locations for sandbags:

  • Self-fill station 1: Oak Drive
  • Self-fill station 2: East Shore Drive
  • Self-fill station 3: Barry County Road Commission | 1725 W. M043 Hwy., Hastings | Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Ready-made station: Praireville Township Hall | 10115 S. Norris Rd., Delton

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