State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) pressed Governor Eric Holcomb to visit communities in Northwest Indiana along the Lake Michigan shoreline that have experienced costly damage to infrastructure due to record-high water levels and erosion. Reardon spoke directly to the governor about this at an event earlier this week and received a promise from him that he will come take a look at the damage that has occurred over the course of the winter.

“The governor hasn’t visited communities along the lakeshore in nearly six months and a lot of damage has occurred in that time-frame, said Candelaria Reardon. “I’ve urged him to come see for himself the severity of damage that these towns and cities are enduring along the lakeshore and I’m going to hold him to his promise he made to come visit these communities in the near future.

“After seeing the Pavilion in Portage basically floating into the lake and the damage to the road in Beverly Shores that was in danger of collapsing with a gas line and water main line underneath it, I believe the governor will be better informed and more inclined to announce a Declaration of Emergency for this part of the state. These Hoosiers deserve access to federal relief funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but that won’t happen if the governor doesn’t take action,” Candelaria Reardon continued.

“I look forward to accompanying him to survey the damage that these communities have faced from the high-water levels due to an unusually warm winter and the lack of an ice shelf to act as a barrier to the shoreline. Otherwise, these people will have to endure costly damage to key infrastructure that could take years to recover from.” 

“The governor needs to come up here and see with his own eyes the level of destruction that we are facing in Portage and other communities along the lakeshore,” said Sue Lynch the Mayor of Portage. “Someone cannot sit in an office in Indianapolis and even begin to imagine the magnitude of damage that we’ve experienced so far due to high water levels and other environmental factors. We need help,” she continued.

“I’m grateful that Representative Candelaria Reardon is calling on the governor to make the trip up to our neck of the woods and do the right thing for the Hoosiers affected by these devastating events.”  

The lake’s level, in combination with recent storm waves, has resulted in conditions this part of the lake hasn’t seen in decades. The Governor of Illinois has declared a State of Emergency for the communities in his state along Lake Michigan that are experiencing the same kind of damage as communities along the lakeshore in Northwest Indiana.

State Representative Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) and State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) sent a letter to the governor’s office in January asking him for a Declaration of Emergency for communities in Porter and LaPorte counties along the Lake Michigan Shoreline so that they would be eligible for federal relief funding from FEMA. In response to their letter, Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) Executive Director Stephen Cox said, “to date (January 15, 2020), we are unaware of any loss of infrastructure (i.e. roads, bridges, public utilities, etc.) which would qualify for public assistance funding from federal or state disaster relief programs.”

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission created a committee last month to help push state and federal authorities for support.