Chesterton Tribune



NPS Beverly Shores Lakeview parking lot falls into lake; utility infrastructure threatened

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Since November, Beverly Shores Town Council Member Geof Benson has been trying to convince anyone at all who would listen that rising lake levels and catastrophic erosion were threatening the imminent destruction of roadway and infrastructure along Lake Front Drive.

No one listened.

“So it’s happening today’ was the subject line of the email which Benson sent to the Chesterton Tribune shortly after 9 this morning, following the collapse of the Lakeview Beach parking lot into Lake Michigan.

Lake Front Drive is now perched precariously over the roiling waters of the lake, spared for the moment by “relief cuts” previously sawed into the asphalt to make for a clean break when the waters finally came to claw back the land.

But only 20 feet to the south, on the far side of the roadway, buried underground, are vital NIPSCO and Indiana American Water Company (IAWC) utilities.

No homes are threatened but access to them is, and the closure of Lake Front Drive on either side of Lakeview Beach--in effect for a month--has now been extended in both directions.

"It’s been threatening to go since November,” Benson told the Tribune. “We’ve been trying to get the governor to declare an emergency, the only way to get federal relief funds released. But he refused. The director of Indiana Homeland Security, a nice-enough guy, says it’s only an emergency when you have infrastructure damage. But that’s not true. You only need to have imminent infrastructure damage. That’s just so stupid. It’s like waiting for your house to burn down and then calling the fire department. Can you tell I’m angry?”

“So we got no help from the state,” Benson added. “We got none from the county, except for “Road Closed” signs. The Town of Beverly Shores went $5 million into debt and we’ve spent the money we went into debt for. Now we’ve got to re-build the road. Now you’ve got asphalt in the lake, which is pollution. I’ve tagged the governor on Facebook.”

The town has been preparing for this day for months, and done as much as it could to prevent or forestall it, Benson said. Numerous relief cuts were made in the asphalt. Sandbagging done, with the assistance of the National Park Service, which actually owns the Lakeview Beach parking lot. Both NIPSCO and IAWC were warned that their infrastructure was threatened and urged to re-route or re-locate their lines. Trees overlooking the beach were selected and yellow ribbons tied to them to act as an early-warning system, the signal to close the road.

Those trees are long gone, bobbing somewhere in the waves.

Paul Labovitz, superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Park, for his part said that the National Park Service’s chief priority is keeping people safe. “Erosion continues with high lake levels and storm intensity,” he told the Tribune.

“The National Park Service continues to work with the Town of Beverly Shores on making sure the visitors and residents stay safe as a solution is figured out.”

The damage could worsen as the day goes on. At 9:12 a.m. the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Lakeshore Flood Warning in effect until 10 p.m., as strong northerly winds gusting to 45 miles per hour were expected to produce 10- to 14-foot waves occasionally to 18 feet.

“Large waves combined with record high lake levels will cause significant beach and shoreline erosion and further damage structures along the shore,” NWS said. “Water will be pushed into northward and northwestward facing channels and ports, and will threaten low-lying parks and roads along the lake, such as Lake Front Drive in the Beverly Shores area. Large waves may sweep onlookers into the lake.”



Posted 4/30/2020






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