Review ordered of Indiana's Lake Michigan shore damage

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor has told state agencies to calculate the damage along the Lake Michigan shoreline that’s been caused by high water ahead of possibly seeking federal assistance.

The order announced Thursday comes as several lakeshore communities have already declared local beach erosion emergencies with waves damaging property and threatening roads. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has declined to declare a state emergency, but Gov. Eric Holcomb said he wanted a new review after viewing the shoreline by helicopter on Sunday.

The erosion is happening as Lake Michigan approaches its highest levels in recorded history and forecasters expect the Great Lakes to remain high well into 2020.

State Senator Karen Tallian, an Ogden Dunes Democrat, called Holcomb’s action “long overdue” as she asked the governor for an emergency declaration almost two months ago.

“I do thank the governor for finally getting involved, and I hope that an emergency declaration is issued as quickly as possible,” Tallian said.

Michigan’s erosion and flooding damage from the Great Lakes has been extensive, with officials estimating the costs of long-term road repairs and upgrades could reach $100 million.

Holcomb is having Indiana agencies collect damage information to determine whether it is extensive enough to declare a state-level emergency and apply for federal disaster aid. His order also directs officials to expedite the review of permit requests for projects aimed at protecting shoreline properties.

Holcomb said the steps show “our dedication to preserving one of our state’s crown jewels for all those who live, work and play along the shoreline.”