It’s been almost five months since Hurricane Sandy unleashed destruction in the eastern United States, but the recovery for the Great Lakes region is just getting started.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army, confirmed that the Great Lakes region would receive approximately $19 million.
A group of Midwest senators wrote to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February, petitioning for federal aid to repair Great Lakes ports, harbors and waterways damaged by the hurricane.
“While the Great Lakes navigation system is threatened due to underfunding, which has been worsened due to lakes levels that have hit record lows, the system also was damaged by Hurricane Sandy,” the letter read.
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin led the efforts, petitioning to Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski for Great Lakes recovery projects.
The first $5.2 million in projects will cover ten Great Lakes harbors, including six in Levin’s Michigan: New Buffalo, Holland, Muskegon, Saugatuck, South Haven and St. Joseph.
Based on weather buoy data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, waves reached heights of more than 21 feet on southern Lake Michigan, 19 feet on southern Lake Huron and 14 feet on western Lake Erie.
Gale force winds – winds at or over 45 mph – caused damage to breakwaters and silted harbors and channels.
The Army Corps of Engineers previously estimated more than $17 million in total hurricane damage for the Great Lakes region.
Lake Erie in Cleveland saw the worst damage: an estimated $12.1 million along the Cleveland breakwater and $240,000 in storm-related dredging in the Cleveland Harbor.
“Secretary Darcy’s commitment is a significant step forward in addressing this monster storm’s impact on the Great Lakes,” Levin said in a statement. “I and other Great Lakes state legislators fought hard to make the Great Lakes a priority, especially because we’re already coping with historic low water levels and their impact on Great Lakes navigation.”