BERRIEN COUNTY APPROVES RESOLUTION ASKING FOR DISASTER DECLARATION

A resolution, introduced by Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, has been approved by the Berrien County (MI) Board of Commissioners asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature to consider requesting a federal disaster declaration for the entire Great Lakes coastline in the State of Michigan.  Commissioner Scott will be meeting with state senators, representatives and the White House to support the cause.  What can you do?  Write to your state senator, representative and the Governor.  Here are some key points you may want to include which were submitted by Coalition member Steve Burrows of Grand Mere, Stevensville, Michigan:

  • Introduce yourself, residence location, personal facts, etc.
  • This letter requests that you support the recent Resolution of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners dated November 21st, 2019 declaring the shoreline of the State of Michigan as a disaster area.  Public, private and commercial property owners and taxpayers in the state need this declaration. Why?

1.  Lake Michigan is at record levels not seen since 1986 after rising for the past 6 years: https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information/Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/Water-Level-Forecast/Monthly-Bulletin-of-Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/

2.  This has caused ongoing issues for public, private and commercial landowners bordering and near the lake and is resulting in billions of dollars in damages.  (Source: Detroit Free Press July 16, 2019)

3.  In October and November of this year, a series of severe storms, with sustained winds of greater than 40 mph and gusts approaching 60 mph have caused severe damage and destroyed millions of dollars of property. These winds are equivalent to Tropical Storm force winds as defined by NOAA and the National Weather Service. https://www.weather.gov/mob/tropical_definitions

4.  Erosion and flooding of Lake Michigan's coastline have resulted in extensive damage to domestic, recreational, and industrial facilities. https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/lake-michigan

5.  Individual property owners have seen unprecedented damage with lost shoreline, structures and homes destroyed by rising waters, severe storms, devasting erosion.  (Add any personal examples of damage, cost, repair costs, etc.)

6.  Commercial businesses such as harbors, restaurants, recreational areas along the lake front have been inundated with the high waters causing damage and loss of business.

7.  Public beaches have become inaccessible and a dangerous risk due to the high waters and severe erosion.

8.  Due to the record lake levels, recent weather events with sustained winds above 40 mph in October and November have resulted in even more damage.

9,  Due to this disastrous situation, Michigan’s $24 billion tourism industry is threatened along with the effect on the over 200,000 people employed in the industry.  (Source:  5/2019 michiganbusiness.org)

10.  Our state needs Federal Disaster Relief short term to assist public, private and commercial property owners with access to low interest loans to install shoreline and other protective barriers.

11.  Additionally, through the Federal Disaster Relief or the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, actions need to be taken in order to implement longer term solutions to the shoreline erosion. These include:   

    1. Beach Re-nourishment. A program whereby sand is dredged and pumped back upon the shoreline of Lake Michigan in areas most severely damaged and continually threatened.  (Source:  Robert G. Dean, Richard A. Davis and Karyn M. Erickson, Beach Nourishment Programs)
    2. Rock Revetment. Construction of rock revetment barriers offshore as was done in Lake Forest Illinois to both protect shoreline properties and also naturally rebuild sand bars. (Source:  Chuck Myers, Superintendent of Parks & Forestry, City of Lake Forest, Illinois)
    3. Government Affairs. Intervention by the U.S. government representatives on the International Joint Commission – IJC, a joint Canadian and U.S. regulatory body which controls the flow and levels of the Great Lakes system, urging them to take actions which can lower the in-flows of water to Lake Michigan. https://www.ijc.org/en/who/role
  •  Express thanks and appreciation for acting soon to protect the important shoreline resource which benefits and impacts all Michigan residents.

Many state senators and representatives have on-line message boxes on the “Contact” page where you can submit your message directly.  Find your legislator:

http://www.house.mi/gov/MHRPublic/frmFindARep.aspx

https://www.mml.org/advocacy/federal/federal-midelegation.htm

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