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Mason County cleanup continues after devastating storm

5:53 PM, Jun 14, 2008   |    comments
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The clean up continues tonight for many northern Michigan residents. Flooding, power outages and collapsed roads are all still a major problem for those in Mason County, and it's led to Gov. Jennifer Granholm declaring a state of emergency for the affected areas. county and city officials have a lot of progress since Thursday's night storm. The amount of damage to the infrastructure was enormous, say county leaders. It includes more than 50 roads washed out or damaged that has some people still unable to get access in or out of those areas. This operation to put Mason County back together is going to be a long process, says Tom Posma, chairman of the Mason County Board of Commissioners. One of the worst hit areas is Madison Avenue in Ludington. Trees and debris washed down and blocked the culvert. Leaders say the water that built up put pressure against the inlet of the pipe. The water then saturated the ground, turning it to mush, says Ludington maintenance superintendent Jon Kortge. It also ruptured a sewer line that's dumping contaminated waste into the water. Cleanup and repair is a labor intensive job, but Kortge says they're already making progress. "We organized the contractors yesterday morning and got most of the materials here except the culvert that goes under the road," he says. Kortge says once they get that culvert installed they can start getting the water and sewer mains back in place - maybe as early as Sunday. That has to happen before the health department will lift the no-contact ban for the water. "They did say they would be testing the waters through Wednesday for sure, and any longer than that would be whatever time it took to make sure the water is safe," says Posma. Two days after the storm, people throughout Mason County are still struggling to dry out. Kim Hamm, general manager of Epworth Heights Resorts says, "We're removing carpet, plugging in fans, and we're going to dry it out and try to get back to business." The rising waters of Lincoln River flooded the vacation community, causing basements in several homes to flood. "We lost both approaches to our channel bridge, which is making access an issue," says Hamm. "We lost a good portion of our steel sea wall which is making this water way unsafe." Hamm says they have contractors and engineers assessing the damage which insurance will not cover because the property is not in a flood plain. Hamm says as bad is it is, things could have been much worse. "We feel very blessed. It's an unfortunate situation but we'll get through it," says Hamm. Mason County officials are asking people not to use high-speed boats on Hamlin Lake. Posma says it is causing wakes that are hitting porperty on the shore and causing more damage. The city of Ludington is plannning a city-wide cleanup the week of June 16th so people can properly dispose contaminated waste.

Angela Cunningham

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