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Bangor Township could seek disaster declaration for Michigan shorelines

(WJRT)
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 2:46 PM EST
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(01/13/2020) - Bangor Township officials will be voting on a resolution that would seek an emergency declaration from the state for the entire shoreline in Michigan because of high water levels.

The move comes after a storm brought widespread flooding near the shoreline in Bangor Township.

The resolution to seek the declaration will be voted on at the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday. If a disaster declaration is made by the state, funding could be made available to help communities dealing with high lake levels.

"Time is not on our side," Glenn Rowley, Bangor Township Supervisor said. "We know that in the spring when all of the snow and the ice starts to melt, the water levels are going to come up higher. We are already anticipating levels that could be as high as 11 inches higher this spring than they were last spring. That already puts us at a very, very bad situation."

Bangor Township residents like Donna Struble are still cleaning up from last weekend's storm. Struble, who has lived along the water for 35 years, said this storm was one of the worst she has ever seen.

"I think everybody feels pretty lucky that it wasn't any worse," she said.

A large tree fell in front of her house, which took out her mailbox and a few bushes in her yard.

"The winds kicked up and the water kept coming up and then it went down and then it came up again," Struble said. "And that time it stayed up."

Higher than normal water levels made the impact from this storm worse.

"This was the perfect storm," Rowley said. "So many bad elements coming together, but happening at a time when we have record high water levels, so this was not the best time for this. Not that there ever is."

Winds coming from the northeast pushed water from Saginaw Bay into communities along the shoreline.

"We already knew about the freezing rain and snow coming in," Rowley said. "We got plenty of warning on that one so we're good. But the strong winds out of the northeast is what really brought up those water levels and that is really what devastated our shoreline communities."

Rowley said flood waters receded after the winds switched to the south but any water that remained ended up freezing.

On Sunday and Monday, residents took time to clean up after the storm but high water levels on the Great Lakes continue to add fear for the next storm.

"Until our water levels can recede a little bit, this is always going to be something that's in the back of their mind, just wondering when the next one is," Rowley said.

"It's part of the territory," Struble said. "You take it in stride and do what you can do. And it's going to do what it wants to do."

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