Rising waters are wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes’ real estate

People are moving their homes and states are scrambling to protect their infrastructure

TRD NATIONAL /
Feb.February 23, 2020 09:00 AM
High water levels in Lake Michigan erode a walkway and seawall (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
High water levels in Lake Michigan erode a walkway and seawall (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Unusually high water levels and waves on the five Great Lakes are ravaging lakeside homes, infrastructure, and businesses. Some are literally washing away.

Erosion on the shores of the Great Lakes has caused tens of millions of dollars in damage across states from Minnesota to New York, according to the Wall Street Journal. Water levels are linked to above-average rain and snowfall over the last several years caused by warmer temperatures.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers forecasts that lake levels could remain elevated through July. If a bad enough storm hits, some shorelines can see 10- to 20-foot waves.

Locals worried their properties are spending big bucks to protect their homes. Some are literally lifting them up and moving them from the shoreline. Others are hiring contractors like Randy Vassh to build sea walls and other barriers.

“I’m just getting call after call after call,” Vassh told the Journal, who added that he’s in the market for more equipment to take on more jobs.

Michigan’s environmental agency has issued 468 permits for shoreline protection from October through December, compared to 557 for the prior 12-month fiscal year.

States and municipalities also have work on their plates. Officials in the city of Duluth, Minnesota expect it will cost $30 million to fix the shoreline, a boardwalk, and other public infrastructure that runs along Lake Superior. They’ve brought in 76,000 tons of stones for protective barriers.

Wisconsin officials estimate $30 million in damages, while Illinois officials estimate $25 million in damages. The governors of both states have declared emergencies that could bring in federal dollars. [WSJ]


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