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Flood control product deployed to save Lake Michigan cottage from erosion

Trapbag is primarily a flood control product developed to mitigate storm surge damage during hurricanes.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Thanks to a web camera the Rubin family has been watching the beach behind their Lake Michigan cottage slowly disappear from their home in Florida. 

The foundation of the cottage on Lost Valley Road north of Montague is now only two feet from a drop off to the lake.

On Thanksgiving, the family noticed the deck to the cottage was pulled into the lake by big waves.

Breck Rubin said by phone gone are the days when the family could enjoy a wide stretch of gently sloped beach.

Rubin hopes the solution to save the family cottage is Trapbag. A product brought to market in 2011 and primarily used to control flooding, developed first to mitigate storm surge damage during hurricanes.

"The system is beneficial because it's rapidly deployable," said Trapbag inventor Buzz Waid.

The Florida man was in Muskegon County Thursday to watch his product be used for the first time to stop erosion.

"This is the first time we've done this application in Michigan," Waid said.

Fremont area builder Joshua Lewis was hired to do the work at the Rubin cottage. 

"We're basically pouring in place a giant stone wall," Lewis said.

The last minute job should keep waves from reaching the cottage's foundation. If nothing had been done, Lewis says it surely would have been damaged. "Oh man maybe in two weeks."

Waid believes Trapbags can be a rapid solution to stop erosion especially for property owners whose home or cottage is on the brink.

Trapbags are individual cells that in this application are filled with concrete and linked together by a cable.

"It encapsulates the cable so that these individual blocks or cells become one continuous contiguous unite tied together by the cable," Waid said.

Lewis' workers filled the first two runs of Trapbags along the shoreline behind the cottage Thursday. Once the first two harden, additional layers will be added.

Waid says the heavy equipment needed to build a traditional steel seawall isn't needed to build one with Trapbags. 

And he says the process is faster too.

"We just put up enough forms to pour 75 cubic yards of concrete in about an hour," Waid said.

The Trapbag seawall at the Rubin cottage will be 90 feet wide and use more than one million pounds of concrete.  

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