(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana is putting wheels in motion to seek a disaster declaration for the Lake Michigan shoreline.
There’s been significant erosion along the lakeshore in Porter and LaPorte Counties. A mild winter left the shoreline without the ice shelf that normally shields it. And two winter rainstorms have made matters worse, bringing the shoreline dangerously close to roads.
Porter County and several cities and towns have declared local emergencies. Ogden Dunes Senator Karen Tallian (D) and Michigan City Representative Pat Boy (D) asked Governor Holcomb for a state emergency declaration six weeks ago to open the door for federal disaster aid. But a state or federal disaster requires specific damage thresholds, and unlike a tornado or hurricane where the damage is easily quantified, Tallian says the area needs help with preventive measures to head off more serious damage like washed-out roads or damaged gas lines.
Holcomb says while the state isn’t eligible for federal help yet, he’s issued an executive order calling on the Department of Homeland Security to keep close tabs on the situation and report immediately if the state hits the threshold. In the meantime, he says the Department of Natural Resources has already been speeding up its review of permits for projects to limit the damage.
Holcomb says both agencies will work on further erosion control ideas. He says he wants to make sure any action taken is actually effective and not washed away by the next storm.
The order also instructs IDHS to seek any available federal non-disaster aid.
Tallian calls the order overdue but welcome.
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