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‘We don’t sleep at night’ — Crooked Lake residents still waiting for help after floods

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BARRY COUNTY, Mich. — Deb Englehardt was looking forward to a relaxing summer with her husband, she said. They both recently retired and are now able to spend more time at their summer home on Crooked Lake.

“This is our 6th summer [here],” she said during an interview near her home. “This was about the last thing that we needed for our summer to be here, a lot of flooding.”

The basement in the Englehardt’s home along East Shore Drive has flooded, she said. Englehardt and her husband have filled dozens of sandbags and placed them along the back of their house, which faces the lake, to prevent any more of it from coming in.

“We don’t sleep at night,” Englehardt said. “We get up every couple of hours to make sure the suck pump is running.”

The pumps have been running nonstop she said. They’ve been pumping out water once every 10-13 seconds. So far the water has been receding but her neighbors haven’t been so lucky.

“There are homeowners that have had to move out of their homes because they can’t flush their toilets,” she said. “It’s becoming a big issue."

Residents along Crooked Lake have been dealing with the floods since January. The springtime’s heavy rains only made it worse. There was once a beach that surrounded the lake. Now its submerged under water.

“When we moved here about seven almost eight years ago, we had probably I would say 30 to 40-feet of sand,” said homeowner Joy Bassett. “So the kids always had a beach to play on. This is the first time ever we’ve not had a beach.”

The beach was Bassett’s backyard. Now the water almost reached her home and it’s eroded her property she said.

“When we first put our dock in, we usually put it in in April, there was sand still,” Bassett said. “Maybe a month later we had to raise it because the water went over the dock. And then by the end of May, it was over it again.”

And the people boating or jet-skiing on the lake don’t help, she said. Any movement causes the smallest wake, which leads to more damage inside the flooded homes. So many of the residents have put up “No Wake” signs in their yards.

“It’s a double-edge sword,” Englehardt said. “If we do get rain we’re flooded even worse but that does keeps the traffic off of the lake on the weekend.”

Englehardt said she’s been active in letting local leaders know whats going on, including Drain Commissioner Jim Dull and the Red Cross. In her letters and emails, she's included pictures of the potholes on the roads to show are deep they are. Her fear is that all the water damage will one day lead to a sinkhole.

“We have potholes that are incredible,” Englehardt said. “We filled sandbags and dropped them in there because cars are bottoming out, even pick up trucks. They’re so big.”

Monday night, Dull saw the floods and subsequent damage firsthand. He met with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality earlier this week and discussed several options to curb the flooding.

“What we’re doing is looking at a short term solution, a place where we can take 12-16 inches off that lake so that it isn’t impacting the septic systems,” Dull said in a phone interview. “It isn’t coming into people’s floorboards and into the houses, and to get the water off some of the roads down there.”

He said the DEQ would first like to conduct a few impact studies before giving them permission to remove the water. However he’s reached out to the senator and  representatives, hoping they will waive all that considering what’s happening is an “emergency” he said.

FOX 17 contacted the DEQ for a comment and are waiting to hear back. Nonetheless, residents echo the same sentiment. Englehardt said there’s been enough meetings. Something needs to be done.

“I’m hoping that everybody thinks that this is a community problem,” she said. “Everybody needs to pitch in and do something to help.”

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