OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. — A home that's been around since the late 1960s was ripped open Wednesday exposing decades of memories to Lake Michigan's wrath.
"It's hard, today's a hard day," said a tearful Cindy Weisling, who owns the home.
The Claybanks Township home has been in her family for 52 years. Her father designed it.
"A lot of people ask, 'Why did you build it so close to the lake?' And we are like 'Well, we didn't. It was way, way out there when we built there,'" Weisling said. "Who would've thought the lake levels would rise this much?"
The last time lake levels were comparable was back in 1986.
"We almost lost the cottage in '86, but this damage is far worse," Weisling, who lives in Milwaukee, said by phone Thursday.
After the damage in the late 80s, Weisling said her family built two seawalls and redid their foundation wall. But, those were no match for the recent waves.
It was a call from the Michigan State Police Thursday morning that alerted Weisling to the extent of the damage.
Oceana County's Emergency Manager James Duram says crews cut electricity at the home to prevent a fire, but he fears what's to come.
"Unfortunately, we are going to see more things like this happening here in the next eight or nine months," Duram said. "With the kind of wave action we are having along the lakeshore, this house could eventually fall into Lake Michigan."
Weisling said she had gone through the process of getting a permit for a new seawall, but she couldn't find someone to build her one.
"They are all so busy," she said. "I am not sure that it would've helped anyway because I think the waves would've just gone right over it."
She and her family will return to the cottage next week to salvage what they can. At this point, Weisling says she's not hopeful that it can be rebuilt.
"My mom passed away in March and I am just thankful that she's not here to know what's happened," Weisling said.
More erosion-related stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Erosion causes Kirk Park boardwalk to break apart
- High winds, flooding, beach erosion and possible power outages expected Wednesday
- Berrien County requests disaster declaration due to erosion
Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.