Owners scramble to save cottages from falling into Lake Michigan.

December 13, 2019

An approximate 600-foot portion of North Lakeshore Drive, which is a gravel road, recently washed away, cutting off access to two cottages.

Owners scramble to save cottages from falling into Lake Michigan.

#OceanaCounty

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

GOLDEN TOWNSHIP — Lake Michigan’s record high water level is putting many homes and cottages along the West Michigan shoreline in serious danger of falling into Lake Michigan.

An approximate 600-foot portion of North Lakeshore Drive, which is a gravel road, recently washed away, cutting off access to two cottages situated high above the lake.

“These two have no way to get to their home,” said Phil Jonassen, a house mover based in Ruby Creek, as he pointed to the two cottages, one of which is new.

This cottage is being moved back 45 feet from the lake’s edge.

Jonassen is using heavy machinery to move one of those cottages in the Juniper Beach Association back from the eroding bluff’s edge about 45 feet to save it. He recently finished lifting and moving another cottage back from the lake and plans to move more.

The 54-by-24 foot cottage he is currently moving weighs 60 tons. He uses a three-point suspension system to move structures. “It’s a like a tricycle,” he said.

“I’m 68 years old, and I’ve been doing this pretty much my whole life,” he said.

Jonassen said he’s flooded with calls daily from Lake Michigan property owners from Manistee to Muskegon who are scrambling to get their houses moved before they fall into the churning lake.

A portion of a house in Claybanks Township recently fell into the lake, and the homeowner is urgently working to get a third seawall built to save the cottage from total destruction.

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Wooden staircases leading down to the beach from lakefront homes have been falling in along the shoreline.

Above average rainfall the last few years has led to a record high water level, and it’s predicted to be even higher next year.

Jonassen said his grandparents lost their cottage to shoreline erosion in the same area back in 1956.

The driveway to this new cottage now at ends at the lake’s bluff where the road washed out.

A group of Michigan senators, including Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) is urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare a state of emergency for the entire Lake Michigan shoreline due to beach erosion, allowing for property owners to get some financial assistance.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

A portion of one of the cottage’s driveways is now in the lake.

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