Video: Crews demolish home before it tumbles into lake

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PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews on Friday demolished a Park Township home that was barely hanging on to a bluff over Lake Michigan.

It took about an hour to tear down the house off Lakeshore Drive just north of Camp Geneva. Crews used an excavator to knock it down, sending some debris down a steep cliff and into the water though they did the best they could to keep it all on land.

The property owner told News 8 over the phone that he has owned the home for several years and was “disappointed” to see it go, but that he knew it needed to be torn down and wanted to get it over with.

“He’s excited to get it down so it doesn’t do any damage out on the lake and nobody gets hurt,” contractor Carl Perrin said before getting to work in his excavator.

Erosion linked to high lake levels washed away much of the bluff, leaving the house’s underside hanging out over the lake. Parts of the foundation had already collapsed, so looking up at it from below Friday morning before demolition, you could see massive holes in the bottom.

Park Township officials were worried that a Thursday night storm would be the final straw and send the home toppling in to the lake, but they decided not to order demolition, saying they didn’t want to set that precedent for private property.

“There is substantial damage that is occurring to a lot of properties, but this definitely is the one that’s the closest to making contact with Lake Michigan,” Ottawa County Emergency Management Director Nick Bonstell said before the demolition.

He urged others whose properties are in danger to work with the county early if they need to tear their houses down.

“Start that process way ahead of time, start that communication so we don’t get into a situation where we have a house that’s halfway hanging over the edge,” Bonstell said.

The threat of high water levels is expected to continue into the spring. Lake levels are forecast to drop by only 6 inches over the winter, putting spring 2020 levels a full foot higher than they were in spring 2019.

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