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High Waves Reach Roofs, Threaten Homes On Lakefront In Rogers Park

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Imagine looking out your window and seeing waves so powerful that they reach your roof and rattle your home.

It's something you might expect to see in Florida, but it's happening in Rogers Park. And as CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported Tuesday, some neighbors along Eastlake Terrace just north of Howard Street are wondering if it's even safe to live there anymore.

The sound of the waves crashing onto the shore is soothing for some. But as Stuart Meyer makes his coffee, eats breakfast, and reads the newspaper each morning, he's not soothed at all as he hears the waves crash from his kitchen.

Meyer lives right on the lake – as many do in Rogers Park. Unlike in most north lakefront neighborhoods, some apartment buildings in Rogers Park are built right up to the lake shore – with the barriers of Lake Shore Drive and the park of Lincoln Park both absent so far north.

And the waves are chipping away at Meyer's home, piece by piece.

"There was a deck right in back of here," Meyer said. "It had to be pulled down. I mean, it was hanging in shreds."

A photo shows that deck teetering precariously as it is pummeled by the wrath of Lake Michigan. It was late on Halloween when Meyer heard loud crashes, windows cracking, and water from the lake rushing through the basement. He realized upon further inspection that the deck had collapsed.

The deck was damaged beyond repair and it was recently taken down by a contractor. But even getting it taken apart was a tough job.

"They wouldn't do it, because he was afraid for the safety of his men," Meyer said.

Meyer's neighbors say they are all used to waves, but what's been happening lately is different.

"Never this high where they're going over the roof of a building," said Reva Meadows, who lives facing the deck that had to come down. "It's horrifying – it's nothing but waves and ice and destruction."

And these neighbors are all lying awake at night, wondering when it will be too much.

"I actually had a nightmare that the waves came up and literally tore the back of the building off, and we all just washed away with it," said Tara Sullivan, whose building also faces Meyer's now-demolished deck.

It is not just homes that are affected. The beaches in Rogers Park are eroding from the water levels too.

Juneway Terrace Park was once home to a small, but popular beach. Now it is home to sinking concrete, and land that continues to erode.

The beach has put up chain-link fence at Juneway Terrace and the lake to keep people out just in the time since Parra last visited a couple of weeks ago.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) advised that homeowners or renters who are worried about their safety or residence should reach out to the Army Corps Engineers – which can help with a personalized emergency plan. The Army Corps suggests homeowners learn more about any Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.

The 49th Ward website also has information about flood risk management, including new floodplain maps that FEMA will issue in 2020.

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