OGDEN DUNES, Ind.
(AP) - An Indiana state agency declined to declare an emergency at Lake
Michigan beaches eroded by high water levels and a series of storms, saying
there isn’t enough damage to public resources to warrant the use of federal
Department of Homeland Security concluded this week that the damage to the
shoreline in Porter and LaPorte counties isn’t severe enough for the state
to request financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management
“To date, we are
unaware of any loss of infrastructure (i.e. roads, bridges, public
utilities, etc.) which would qualify for public assistance funding from
federal or state disaster relief programs,” IDHS Executive Director Stephen
Cox wrote in a Wednesday letter to lawmakers who asked for the state’s
Cox responded to
calls from Democratic state Sen. Karen Tallian and Rep. Pat Boy, who had
asked Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to declare a disaster in those counties,
saying the state’s response has been woefully inadequate.
IDHS, and other
state and federal agencies, have been monitoring the beach erosion, Cox
said. He pointed to similar shoreline erosion problems in Michigan that the
state hasn’t deemed a disaster or sought FEMA funds for, The Times of
Northwest Indiana reported.
But Tallian pushed
back, arguing that although the lake hasn’t damaged “public” infrastructure,
such as the Portage lakefront pavilion, there’s an urgent need for state
resources to prevent that from happening.
The senator, who is
from Ogden Dunes, noted that support beams for porches at lake-adjacent
homes in Long Beach have collapsed. Lake water has also made its way past
barriers and exposed septic fields in the town, possibly resulting in sewage
seeping into the lake.
She also pointed to
the “big pile of money” the town of Beverly Shores spent on preventing Lake
Front Drive from getting washed out.
“Surely we don’t
have to wait until the road is in the lake before we can ask for
assistance,” Tallian said.
There are ongoing
local efforts to address erosion.
Officials in Porter
County, Portage, Ogden Dunes and Beverly Shores have declared local beach
On Thursday, the
Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission created a committee to
demand a more helpful response from state and federal authorities.
The commission will
underscore the threats of the rising lake levels in addition to the broader
regional and national implications.
This week in
Illinois, high lake levels and a string of storms have forced Chicago
officials to close two beaches in Rogers Park, which is on the city’s North