HOLLAND, Michigan — Clean up began Saturday for workers at Holland State Park, as they hurried to remove the debris washed ashore from Wednesday's storms.
With heavy wind and rain action, the event led to high waters, which Holland State Park Unit Supervisor Sean Mulligan, said caused damage and a pile-up of trees, construction debris, plastic and more.
"The direction was just right to bring a lot of water up over this area where the sidewalk extends to the pier. And it was able to undermined—the sidewalk—because of erosion to the sand," adding that this is the highest lake levels he's seen.
The National Weather Service said Holland had near-record high water levels on Wednesday, only coming up a couple of feet short from the record set in 1985. Those extremely high water levels eroded the sand beneath cement sidewalks which line the Lake Macatawa channel at the state park.
Saturday, crews were focusing on debris. Mulligan said they'll need more help to clean up the widespread damage. Holland State Park will try to get help from within their division department to remove more dangerous debris— like bits of wood with nails and screws lodged inside. But Mulligan adds that there isn't a set timeline that the beach and cement walkway will be repaired.
"We’ll have to take a look at how feasible it is to reuse this [walkway], or if we’ll have to find a temporary method to put a walkway out to the pier. With lake levels where they are, it doesn’t make much sense to put it back out if the same thing can happen again," Mulligan explained.
The park's staff numbers are down this time of year, with only three rangers to carry the load on Saturday. Seasonal employee layoffs are coming soon, and Mulligan said it will be up to about two employees to help restore the beach. The park is not enlisting help from volunteers, but he said the community has always been great about helping out.
"They take a lot of ownership in this park, which we really appreciate. Every day we see people picking up garbage and litter, and we really appreciate that. If they continue to do that and set it in one big pile, it’ll make it a lot easier for the rest of us that are left here to pick it up in the off season," Mulligan said.
In the meantime, the park is advising visitors to be cautious of where they are stepping and to avoid playing on any big pieces of debris.
"We appreciate the visitors coming out to the park all year around. We’re going to try to make this as safe as possible, but please be on your guard and keep safety in mind when you’re out here," Mulligan said.
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