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Berrien County requests disaster declaration for Michigan shoreline due to erosion

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
Large sandbags are piled up near the base of a dune on Lake Michigan to prevent further erosion.

Berrien County commissioners want a disaster declaration from the state and federal governments to help cope with erosion along the Michigan shoreline.

A resolution passed last week calls for a disaster declaration for more than 3,000 miles of Michigan’s coast.

The resolution notes that high water levels have caused trouble for communities in 2019, and it’s expected to get worse into the spring of 2020. It asks the governor and state legislators to seek federal assistance “for this devastating situation which has an impact statewide.”

Ezra Scott is the Berrien County commissioner who sponsored the resolution. He says homeowners in his district have been losing property to erosion because of high water levels in Lake Michigan. But he says the water is high in all the Lakes.

“So this is a complete Great Lakes problem with the high water, the erosion and no beaches. And, how do we fix it?” says Scott.

Scott says people in his district are already losing their property due to high water levels and erosion.

“It’s a problem,” Scott says. “And until we address it on a national level and get awareness out there, nothing’s ever going to happen.”

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.