WHITE RIVER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A homeowner is saying goodbye to her beloved cottage, which toppled off a bluff after aggressive erosion along Lake Michigan.

Ever since the house west of Montague crashed down a cliff on New Year’s Eve, Tish Gancer has been working with state and county officials to figure out a plan to clean up the mess. She met with officials Wednesday to sign off on a plan to demolish the house.

Tish Gancer says goodbye to her cottage near Montague that fell into Lake Michigan. (Jan. 8, 2020)
Tish Gancer says goodbye to her cottage near Montague that fell into Lake Michigan. (Jan. 8, 2020)

Gancer hired White Lake Dock & Dredge, Inc. for the demolition project. It’s the same company that was in the process of installing shoreline protection when the house went down.

Officials agree there was nothing more she or contractors could’ve done to save the home from the elements.

“It was a perfect storm,” Gancer said of the house falling.

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The demolition will be tricky as crews will work from the shoreline to remove the debris from the bluff. Crews told News 8 they would be ready to start work as early as Thursday, but it’s dependent on weather. They need the lake to be calm for the job.

white river township house fallen off bluff
This cottage near Montague toppled off a bluff alongside Lake Michigan because of erosion. (Jan. 8, 2020)

The situation is being monitored by Muskegon County Emergency Management and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“My role is to ensure the home is safely demolished, removed and disposed of,” David Wierzbicki, EGLE incident management specialist, said.


As the threat of rising waters and erosion continues, EGLE is working closely with county officials to protect people and their properties.

“Try and plan ahead and try and protect the structures,” Wierzbicki explained. “If they’re at risk … make sure people are out if need be and to demolish or move them back to try and keep these structures from falling over into the lake.”

Muskegon County Emergency Management Director Rich Warner is now getting notifications from EGLE whenever a resident applies for a permit related to erosion concerns. He said that from there, he can assist the homeowner in navigating the permit process to ensure there are no delays.

“Making sure when the permit does go in, it’s filled out correctly the first time because obviously time is not on our side right now,” Warner said.

For more information about erosion protection and resources available, you can visit EGLE’s website.