Millions of dollars worth of damage caused as storms ravage lake

Already high water and winds from a freak winter storm that caused waves as high as 23ft on Lake Michigan has closed roadways, damaged public and private docking and caused one municipality to dismantle its marina in order to save it.

In Chicago, portions of Lake Shore Drive, which hugs the city’s shoreline, were closed along with bicycle paths and other public access to Lake Michigan, according to various local reports. There were also reports of inland flooding due to the high waves.

150 miles to the north, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, high winds and 6ft-8ft waves pummeled the South Shore Yacht Club and Port Milwaukee, causing “millions of dollars in damage”, port director Adam Schlicht told WITI-TV.

”[It’s] an unprecedented event at Port Milwaukee,” Schlicht said, adding the port’s international docks, which are closed for the season, sustained “significant damage”, forcing the port to prohibit public access and flooding on all major roadways at the port. The wind and water stripped off dock wall material and pushed it inland, and frozen floodwaters covered railroad tracks in a foot of ice, Schlicht said.

“No one expected this,” said Jason Haas, Milwaukee County supervisor. “Perhaps we should have. This is, really, a freak storm.”

Across the lake to the east, even before the weekend storms the city of New Buffalo, Michigan began dismantling and removing the entire dock system at Municipal Marina due to the historic high-water levels. The docks could not be raised above the water level which left them exposed to potential damage from freezing waters during the winter, according to moodyonthemarket.com.

New Buffalo Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV says: “The community made an investment in the marina that we felt needed to be protected and it was decided removing docks for the winter was the most prudent course of action.” O’Donnell adds, “This will also allow us to perform additional maintenance on the docks that would not have been possible if they remained in the water.”