WHITE RIVER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A home west of Montague crashed off the top of a bluff on New Year’s Eve, a casualty of aggressive erosion that has been eating away at the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Muskegon County Emergency Services Director Rich Warner told News 8 Wednesday that officials had been monitoring the home in White River Township and working with its owner to try to stop it from falling. He said homeowner Tish Gancer did everything right and had been working with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy to try to prevent the disaster by installing riprap and a rock wall.
“I got a message that I never expected to get because we’d been working so hard and it looked like it was going to work out,” a heartbroken Gancer told News 8 over the phone Wednesday from her home on the east side of the state. “And he said, ‘She went over.'”
No one was at the house when it fell and no one was hurt.
Gancer said the beloved cottage had been in her family for generations, dating back to when her grandfather bought it in the 1930s. The house used to be much farther away from the water, separated by some woods. Erosion has changed that.
“I kept thinking it was going to work, but it really sped up there in the last couple weeks,” Gancer said.
Gancer hopes to visit the property Thursday to assess the situation and determine the next steps regarding demolition. Warner said she will be responsible for the cleanup costs. She has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the expense.
Authorities are asking the public to avoid the area, which was blocked off and secured for safety purposes.
People who live in the area say a neighboring property is also close to toppling off the bluff.
Fueled by high water levels and storms, erosion has been threatening properties up and down Lake Michigan. Two homes were demolished — one in August and the other in November — before they could topple into the water. Another was moved away from the lake.
Several state lawmakers have asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare a state of emergency to open the door for state aid and possibly a federal declaration.