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Wild Waves Threaten Indiana Dunes In Portage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dramatic flooding at the Indiana Dunes.

It's so bad, a popular part of the park is threatened.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reports there's a push to shut that lakefront down.

The howling wind and frozen scenery won't stop Michelle Dover from visiting the Indiana Dunes.

"Actually we just wanted to see what it actually looked like in real life with the waves crossing over to the other side," Dover said.

She'd only seen it in videos, like one taken on Monday.

It shows Lake Michigan crashing past the dune and into a separate body of water, behind the Portage Lakefront Pavilion.

And Portage Mayor John Cannon said he's worried about the 17 million dollar building.

"It could undermine the foundation of the building and that would be catastrophic," Cannon said.

The National Parks Service said the structure is completely safe at least for the next year or two, adding that it is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find ways to protect this dune and hopefully keep it from breaking down even further.

He said if the lake freezes, it will also tame the high waves.

Lorelei Weimer with Indiana Dunes tourism said it's been two years since the lake swallowed up what was once a handicap accessible ramp at the Portage lakefront.

"You're seeing this big gap that exists," Weimer said.

She hopes the state of Indiana will find the funds to replenish the sand here and study a long term fix for the erosion.

"I want the future generations to look at this and say 'hey we got it right.' We figured out what the problem was and we figured out what the solution was," Weimer said.

The waves have calmed down since that video was posted, but the mayor said he's still concerned that someone could get hurt or swept into the smaller body of water.

He'll meet with the National Parks Service on Friday.

The mayor said he wants the shutdown to be temporary, until everyone has a better grasp on the situation. The park superintendent said the lakefront is safe but if you go, you should always be careful.

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