’We thought we would retire in next few years’ -- Northville family’s cottage destroyed in floods

Van Ameyde family says mid-Michigan flooding destroyed cottage

Northville family’s cottage destroyed in floods
Northville family’s cottage destroyed in floods

NORTHVILLE, Mich. – A Northville family whose cottage was destroyed when dam failures caused catastrophic flooding in mid-Michigan said they thought they would retire in the next few years, but that’s no longer the case.

Julie Ann Van Ameyde said her family is still reeling from the floods and feels forgotten by the government.

“This was going to be our retirement home,” Van Ameyde said. “We have been working on this home for 16 years. We thought we would retire in the next few years. Well, that’s gone. We will not be retiring in the next couple of years.”

READ: 6 dams in SE Michigan considered ‘high hazard potential dams’ -- here’s the list

Van Ameyde said she’s one of many Metro Detroiters heartbroken over their summer cottages being destroyed when the Edenville Dam failed in May.

Van Ameyde lives in Northville, but she and her husband had a retirement home in Beaverton. The flood damage to the home is devastating.

“The government did not include us initially in the state of emergency,” Van Ameyde said.

She also feels forgotten by her insurance company. She said they checked time and again if they were covered for anything that came their way, and they were told yes. Now, the company is taking a different stance.

“An act of God,” Van Ameyde said. “They called it an act of God, but it is not. This is someone not maintaining their property, and it has not become our problem. Boyce Hydro has not maintained those dams for almost two decades.”

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy doesn’t think the flooding was an act of God. State officials are suing Boyce Hydro, but at a hearing Wednesday about the dam failure, there were no answers for the people who lost so much.

“We know there’s a lot of questions, and I know we all want answers (about) what caused the failure and who’s responsible,” EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark said. “I’m committed to ensuring that we receive those answers.”

Van Ameyde said the only help that came her way was from teenagers in a church group. She has joined a class-action lawsuit against the state and dam owner.

About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.