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Near-record storm surge in Holland leaves behind damage, debris

It's been 34 years since Holland was hit with water levels that high.
Credit: Jill Edstrom
Photos by Jill Edstrom

In Holland, already high water levels and storm surge created water levels that have not been seen since 1985, according to the National Weather Service. 

NWS said on Dec. 2, 1985, the levels reached 583.15 feet. On Wednesday, they reached 582.98 feet—only a couple of inches behind the record. It's been 34 years since water levels reached that height in Holland.

This fall, the Lake Michigan shoreline has been battered by repeated strong storms. The Great Lakes have posted record-high water levels this year, which only exacerbated the erosion from the fall storms. 

Wednesday's storm had winds that were measured at 45 to 65 mph, which produced a storm surge in the afternoon and evening. The water levels caused flooding in many beach towns, NWS said, as the storm surge pushed the water over the beach, through channels and into inland lakes. 

At Holland State Park, photos shared to 13 ON YOUR SIDE by Jill Edstrom show snow fencing knocked down, debris littering the beach and most seriously, sidewalks that crumbled atop eroding sands.

Edstrom's photos show some of the cement sidewalks along the Lake Macatawa channel have cracked and the sand beneath them has washed away.

MaryLou Derooy also shared video with 13 ON YOUR SIDE from Ludington, which showed cement paths along the water have also crumbled. NWS said the water levels there also nearly broke a record, reaching 582.77 feet on Wednesday with the highest recorded level being 582.80 feet in September of 1986. 

Holland State Park posted on their Facebook page Friday saying the park "sustained some damage to the sidewalk and channel area near the pier." They said they are looking into what they can do to repair the damage to the sidewalks. 

"In the mean time we have placed caution tape around areas that could be dangerous. Please stay off of undermined sidewalks for your own safety," the park said. They also said because of the Thanksgiving holiday, a crew large enough to clear the debris won't be available until Saturday at the earliest.  

For some historical context, take a look at this short series from 1985 where 13 ON YOUR SIDE looked at lake levels and beach erosion eating away at the shoreline.

Other stories about the beach erosion from 13 ON YOUR SIDE:

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