Funding on the way for homes in danger due Lake Michigan erosion

Gov.  Scott Walker announced $840,000 in relief is coming to southeastern Wisconsin communities struggling with erosion along the Lake Michigan coast.

Rising water levels, storms and erosion have put several Mount Pleasant homes in danger. Beaches and harbor infrastructure haven’t been spared either.

Tony VanPutten has lived on his Lake Michigan lakefront property for 35 years. The beautiful view didn’t come with worries until a few years ago.

“My backyard is disappearing, little by little,” he said.  “With the waves coming in it is getting worse. The biggest worry is that tree. If that goes then something will have to be done. It’s getting close to the back corner of the house.”

Several homeowners near Caledonia and Mount Pleasant have paid tens of thousands of dollars to have tons of rock laid to block bluffs from the waves. It’s a long-term measure that isn’t feasible for all.

The announcement of $840,000 Coastal Resilience Grant brings relief for Racine County Executive Jonathan Delegrave. He said the south side of Mt. Pleasant is the most affected community along the coast.

“I’m hoping that they’ll see the need is a priority here,” he said. “We’ll be conveying that to the state.”

Delegrave said he doesn’t know how the grant will be dispersed or when the funds will be available, but time isn’t on their side.

“This is a blue-collar hard working community so we’re not talking about households with a lot of disposable income to be able to help fix the erosion,” Delegrave said.

VanPutten said a piece of this grant may be his only hope to stay in his home. 

“I hope they spend it the right way to help people out who are not so lucky to have the money to do that,” he said.

The grant will be paid over three years. The Army Corps of Engineers will be surveying the coastline soon to assess the cost of repairs.

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