Some move out as erosion threatens Lake Michigan homes

Rising Waters

CLAYBANKS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Another set of homes are at risk of falling into Lake Michigan, threatened by erosion.

Two homes just west of Flower Creek in Montague are teetering on the edge of a bluff. Powerful fall storms have whipped up an unusually high lake and washed away the properties’ beach front. 

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Homeowner Laura Garfinkel says her family has owned one of the cottages since 1968. She spent the summer there and things were fine. But in the last two weeks, erosion has caused the home to sit only as few feet from the edge of the bluff.

A moving truck sat in the home’s driveway Thursday as the homeowner worked to pack up everything left inside. Garfinkel said she’s not sure if or when she will tear the house down.

She said she looked into getting sea wall protections and rock wall revetment but the high cost did not make much sense. The home already has some wooden sea walls that were installed in the 1980s but water could be seen washing over them Thursday.

The cottage next to the Garfinkel’s is in even worse shape. Portions of the flooring and furniture have already started falling into the lake.

claybanks township erosion homes
A Claybanks Township home teeters on the edge of a Lake Michigan bluff after unusually aggressive erosion. (Dec. 5, 2019)

The homeowner, Cindy Weisling of Milwaukee, told news 8 she moved things out of the home over the past few days.

Weisling’s goal is have sandbags installed soon. She said she will later try to add a sea wall to save the home. That process could take a few months. 

The Oceana Department of Emergency Management said the homes are just two of several it is monitoring. It said that while there isn’t much it can do to prevent the erosion or resulting damage, it is trying to prepare homeowners. 

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