Michigan residents manage Lake Erie flooding, broken seawall

May 15, 2018

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Residents along Lake Erie in southeastern Michigan are restoring their properties after a recent storm collapsed a seawall and flooded the area.

Some homeowners in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township are saying flood damage from the April 15 storm will require thousands of dollars in restoration costs.

The crumbled seawall has left many wondering who is responsible for its repair, which could cost about $20,000.

The township’s flood-control ordinance designates seawall maintenance as the homeowners’ responsibility.

But many residents are asking the township to step in because the lake’s water has risen over recent years and a beach buffer no longer exists.

The seawall used to stand about 3 feet (0.9 meters) high. It was built in the 1970s and a newer seawall was built lower about eight years ago.

“The wall is very poorly constructed,” said resident Bobbie Williams. “It’s not tied into the old wall very well. It should’ve been higher. All of these walls should’ve been higher.”

In 2010, a beach extended about 30 feet (9 meters) between the lakefront properties and Lake Erie, according to residents. Homeowners’ properties are now closer to the water than ever.

“It’s sad and I feel sympathy for the people along the lake but they bought the property and have to be responsible for what they have,” said Township Supervisor James McDevitt.

He said a team will sandbag the area to keep water away until a long-term fix is made.

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