HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Homeowners concerned about the fate of their lakeshore properties took their questions to a panel of experts Thursday evening at the Holland Civic Center.
The event titled “Erosion 2020” was hosted by realty the company Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt Holland and aimed to educate, communicate and advise community members about the rising waters and aggressive erosion.
Among the nine panelists was John Allis with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Allis explained to the hundreds of community members in attendance that little can be done to control the rising lake levels contributing to the erosion.
“We are really at the mercy of Mother Nature with how wet it is,” Allis said.
Many homeowners took notes as the panel of experts explained the facts and figures behind the rising water levels, pointing out that Lake Michigan is currently a foot and a half higher than it was this time last year.
The higher lake levels have led to the more aggressive erosion, putting many lakeshore homes at risk.
Nick Bonstell with Ottawa County Emergency Management shared the number of properties on their radar and what’s been done so far.
Bonstell said out of the 84 structures assessed in Ottawa County, six have been successfully moved, three demolished and there was only one property that was close to falling in but was demolished just in time.
When it comes to homes still potentially at risk, Bonstell said there are four Ottawa County houses that are within ten feet of the bluff and 36 houses within 10 to 25 feet.
For homes dangerously close to the edge, experts say those property owners need to act now when it comes to putting in a protective barrier like a seawall, but those who can wait, should as the demand for contractors is at an all-time high and so are the prices.
“If you have it inspected and you have some time, I would encourage you to wait because the cost is going to be higher now than it would be later,” panelist Greg Weykamp with Edgewater Resources said.
Another tip from the experts was to work with your neighbors when it comes to installing protective barriers as it will help cut the cost and enhance the overall coverage.
The full discussion can be watched online.