EagleHerald/John Liesveld
Just off of M-35 in Menominee, this summer home owned by Menominee resident Mike Roach bore the brunt of high winds, high waters and winter weather that made its way through the area over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Close to 3 feet of standing water topped by a layer of ice filled the yard.
EagleHerald/John Liesveld
Just off of M-35 in Menominee, this summer home owned by Menominee resident Mike Roach bore the brunt of high winds, high waters and winter weather that made its way through the area over the Thanksgiving weekend. Close to 3 feet of standing water topped by a layer of ice filled the yard.

MENOMINEE — The weight of white coating the tree branches pushes them down almost far enough to meet the sheet of ice that crystallized over the knee-deep water surrounding Menominee resident Mike Roach’s summer cottage along M-35. 

Thanks to the one-two punch of weather events, Roach’s cottage sat Monday morning inundated inside and out by a pond of water, ice, snow and slush approximately 3 feet deep.  

According to information provided by Menominee City Engineer & Director of Public Works Tricia Alwin, water levels on Lake Michigan reached historic levels not seen since 1986 when they rose to just over 582 feet above sea level. In July of this year, the level peaked at 581.35 feet. It continues to run at near-record levels.  

“With the Northeast winds, the high waves and the high water levels, it pretty much demolishes the shoreline,” Alwin said, referring to lakefront areas running from Oconto County in Wisconsin up to the City of Escanaba, Michigan. 

When the latest rounds of wet winter weather hit, Roach had already deployed two pumps inside his cottage to combat Wednesday’s relentless gale-force winds. Those winds pounded waves over his riprap, pouring lake water into his yard, which filled up like a bathtub.

Just a few days later, the heavy snow, persistent high winds and near-blizzard conditions trounced the area again, making it impossible for Roach to travel from his home in the City of Menominee so that he could monitor the progress of those pumps. 

Monday morning, sunny skies offered him the first clear look at the magnitude of the cleanup. He estimated more than 3 feet of water, topped off by a sheet of ice, inside the home.  

“The winds came in and flooded it all out. And then it froze,” Roach said. “You can’t even pump it out now.  The cottage is going to sit like that until spring.”

ADDRESSING ONGOING FLOODED AREAS

Aside from several homes along M-35, Alwin also pointed out four areas in the City of Menominee that also experienced shoreline erosion due to weather events and high waters over the last year. She said much of that deterioration began in October.

Those areas stretch from Harbor Drive to various locations along 1st Street and extend up to John Henes Park, where lashing high waters eroded portions of the road between the beach house and the beach. 

Alwin has already filed an application to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and the Army Corps of Engineers, seeking to obtain a joint permit that would allow the city to begin placing rock to build up the lakefront. She continues to wait while the various paper work clears the procession of legal hurdles.

However, Alwin stated that such work can be carried out during the winter months. She said that as soon as the city obtains permission, crews will commence building up the problem areas along shore. 

“We are working on saving the shoreline,” Alwin assured. “It is just a process that takes times.”

MENOMINEE COUNTY ROAD CLEANUP CONTINUES

According to officials with the Menominee County Road Commission, the storm dumped between 22 to 25 inches, hitting the mid to southern portions of the county worst.

Monday afternoon, Menominee County Road Commission Assistant Engineer-Manager Darrell Cass reported that county road crews continued to coordinate major cleanup efforts on the roads. 

“We recently hired six new drivers and everyone is working overtime to clean up as fast as possible,” Cass said. “Our crews are doing a great job … we have 24 plow trucks … and 6 motor graders. This storm hit the mid to southern portion of the county worse. Some of our crews observed 22 to 25 inches of snowfall and also significant blowing and drifting snow.” 

He said that crews finished clearing state highways and most of the primary county roads by Monday evening and had moved on to secondary roads. Today, crews plan on digging into the task of clearing roadway shoulders as well as dead end roads.   

“It will take a while to clean this storm up,” said Engineer-Manager Darrell Moilanen, Cass’ supervisor. “We will continue to work the rest of the week.”