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Powerful storms hit Great Lakes coastline communities, knocking down power lines

Powerful storms hit Great Lakes coastline communities, knocking down power lines
October 22, 2019 The Associated Press

Utilities are trying to restore power in western Michigan as winds buffet the region and waves pound the Lake Michigan coast.

The National Weather Service predicted winds of 30 to 40 mph Tuesday and are warning about beach and dune erosion. A lakeshore flood warning has been posted until Wednesday in at least six counties, from Mason County south to Van Buren County.

In Muskegon County, Azariah Kozicki is trying to protect a cottage with a wall of steel and wood. Kozicki says “it’s erosion to the max.”

Tom Cotter just moved into a newly built home in Ferrysburg in Ottawa County. He says he’s lost 10 feet of property in just a week. He’s seeking a permit to build a seawall.

Last week, the National Weather Service says wind speed exceeded 50 mph Wednesday up and down the coast. Waves crashed into piers and lighthouses, drawing spectators with cameras to see the spectacle.

Tom Durant, a 76-year-old in South Haven, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Near Grand Haven, homeowner Paul Griffeth says he’s lost at least 80 feet of beach due to high water and rough weather. In Manistee, the Coast Guard station was cut off due to flooded roads. Karen Hudson, who has a condo near the water, says the lake is “angry.”

Paul Swidorski, who works for an excavation company, says the amount of work this year is “off the charts” as property owners seek help to protect homes.

The National Weather Service also says Wednesday’s storm swept away up to 20 feet of dunes in some of Michigan’s lakeside communities.

The weather service says wind-driven waves combined with already near-record high lake levels to create widespread lakeside erosion, threatening some homes in western and northern Michigan.

Spring Lake resident Sammie Congleton says Wednesday’s waves damaged part of her home’s deck and further eroded dunes that once extended 300 feet (91 meters) to the water.

She tells WOOD-TV the home she and her husband bought in the early 1990s has been “a little piece of paradise.” Now, they’re awaiting government approval to install large rocks to hold the remaining dunes in place.

Forecasters expect the lake’s high waters to continue into early next year.

But Lake Michigan property owners aren’t the only ones being hit. Twin Ports residents are clearing debris after a forceful storm knocked down trees and power lines and caused flooding near Lake Superior.

Duluth city officials say they will begin to assess damage from the storm Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory because the strong winds, rain and high lake levels were causing coastal flooding Monday.

The city temporarily closed access to the Park Point neighborhood in Duluth Monday evening due to high water. Portions of Canal Park and Brighton Beach in Duluth were closed earlier.

About 9,000 Minnesota Power customers lost service at the height of the storm. Only a few dozen customers were still without power Tuesday morning.

Officials urged caution to motorists crossing the bridges between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin because of the strong wind and heavy rain.

This article was compiled and edited from AP reports by Great Lakes Now News Director Natasha Blakely.

Featured image: Large waves, on Lake Michigan, caused by high winds, crash into the Saint Joseph Lighthouse and pier on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Saint Joseph, Mich. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

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