INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has declined to issue an emergency disaster declaration for the Lake Michigan shoreline, has promised to come take a look at the ongoing erosion problems.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, said she pressed the governor to visit communities in Northwest Indiana along Lake Michigan that have experienced damage to infrastructure due to record-high water levels and erosion.
Candelaria Reardon, a First District congressional candidate, said she spoke to the governor at an event earlier this week and received a promise from him that he will come look at the damage.
“The governor hasn’t visited communities along the lakeshore in nearly six months and a lot of damage has occurred in that time-frame,” Candelaria Reardon said.
“I’ve urged him to come see for himself the severity of damage that these towns and cities are enduring along the lakeshore and I’m going to hold him to his promise he made to come visit these communities in the near future.”
State Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City, and state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, sent a letter to the governor’s office in January asking him for a Declaration of Emergency for communities in Porter and La Porte counties.
Such a declaration would make those areas eligible for federal relief funding from FEMA.
But in response, Indiana Department of Homeland Security Executive Director Stephen Cox said, “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.”
Candelaria Reardon disagrees with that assessment.
“After seeing the pavilion in Portage basically floating into the lake and the damage to the road in Beverly Shores that was in danger of collapsing with a gas line and water main line underneath it, I believe the governor will be better informed and more inclined to announce a Declaration of Emergency for this part of the state.
“These Hoosiers deserve access to federal relief funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but that won’t happen if the governor doesn’t take action.”
She said she looks forward to “accompanying him to survey the damage that these communities have faced from the high-water levels due to an unusually warm winter and the lack of an ice shelf to act as a barrier to the shoreline.
“Otherwise, these people will have to endure costly damage to key infrastructure that could take years to recover from.”
Holcomb “needs to come up here and see with his own eyes the level of destruction that we are facing in Portage and other communities along the lakeshore,” Portage Mayor Sue Lynch said.
“Someone cannot sit in an office in Indianapolis and even begin to imagine the magnitude of damage that we’ve experienced so far due to high water levels and other environmental factors. We need help.”
Lynch she was “grateful that Rep. Candelaria Reardon is calling on the governor to make the trip up to our neck of the woods, and do the right thing for Hoosiers affected by these devastating events.”
The lake’s level, in combination with recent storm waves, has resulted in conditions along the lake that haven’t been seen in decades.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has declared a State of Emergency for communities in that state along Lake Michigan that are experiencing erosion damage.
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission has also created a committee to help push state and federal authorities for support.