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Red Alert Issued On Lake Michigan Shoreline Erosion; City, State Declare Emergency

CHICAGO (CBS) – It's growing emergency along Chicago's lakefront--the shoreline is washing away and homes are threatened because of high lake levels.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra reports, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is declaring it a disaster and the city is telling the feds to send help now.

A lot has changed since the last time CBS 2 met up with Greg Ballarta along the lake in Rogers Park. Since then, stone has been added to protect Juneway Terrace Park from erosion. Three months ago, he showed us collapsing sidewalks and sinking earth.

Although the stones seem to be doing their job here for the short term, Lightfoot says it might get worse.

"What I'm mostly concerned about are properties right up on the edge of the lake that are literally teetering on the edge of destruction because their foundations are being eroded by the waters that are battering them," Lightfoot said.

On Friday, the city and state issued a disaster proclamation, asking for federal funding

This follows on the heels of a winter storm that ripped through the area last month. Lake Michigan's wrath caused $37 million in damage, $25 million on the Chicago Park District property alone

The Army Corps of Engineers says this is the highest water level for Lake Michigan in 30 years.

"We are in a period of elevated risk," said Col. Aaron Reisinger of the Army Corps. "Right now in January we are at levels higher than we were a year ago, and we are anticipating the forecast showing us going higher as we get into spring and summertime."

The next step, he says, is to get federal funding so the Corps can finish their study on the remaining shoreline and get long term solutions.

An answer on federal funding should be known by Monday.


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