House teeters on the edge of cliff over Lake Michigan

KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. (WTMJ/CNN) - A Wisconsin family is struggling with what to do about their home, which is hanging over an eroding cliff that could give out any time.

Homeowners don't know what to do with a house that is too expensive to fix, but could cost even more in fines if it falls. (Source: WTMJ/CNN)

It's too expensive to fix the problem, but letting it slide into Lake Michigan could cost them even more.

The couple that lived there moved out about a year ago after their side porch fell right into the lake. Now, about 10 feet of their home hangs right over the edge.

Severe bluff erosion has been an issue in Racine and Kenosha counties for several years now.

"They had a beautiful home there at one time," neighbor Mike Gosselin said. "One evening, the winds just came up, took it all off and the grounds just went. Now, it just keeps going further and further in."

Gosselin has lived next door to the house teetering on a 50-foot cliff for more than 40 years now. He’s watched as large portions of the shoreline have fallen into Lake Michigan, exposing the home down to its foundation.

"It's come in a good hundred feet or so already," Gosselin explained.

Rising lake levels creating big waves are to blame for the natural erosion. But those who have evacuated this condemned home find themselves in a difficult position.

Their insurance doesn’t cover earth movement, and they can’t demolish the house because they still owe $100,000 on the property.

"They can't let it fall in the lake," Gosselin said.

If it does go tumbling down, they'll be fined for contaminating Lake Michigan's federally protected water.

“It’s an older home, so there’s going to be lead paint and asbestos and things like that,” Gosselin said.

Any day now, another direct hit by a big wave could make the decision for them.

“I’m really sorry because the insurance didn’t help them or anything. I’m still a good 50, 60 feet away, so I’m not too worried about it in my lifetime, but there are other people along this lake in far worse conditions than I am,” Gosselin said.

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