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