Glen Arbor hit by knockout storm


Photo courtesy of Glen Arbor Artisans / Paul May

By Jacob Wheeler
Sun editor

Glen Arbor was hit by a severe storm on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 2. Winds of 100 miles per hour reportedly pummeled the town next to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the height of the summer tourism season. All roads into Glen Arbor, and around the Glen Lakes, were impassible the first night. M-109 to the west of town was cleared by Monday. M-22 to the north opened on Tuesday, and M-22 to the south opened on Thursday. Thousands lost power, and despite several injuries, no one died. Electricity didn’t return to Glen Arbor until Friday, nearly 5 days after the storm hit. During that time, the Glen Arbor Township Hall opened to those who needed shelter.

ArtsTavernBefore electricity returned, businesses with generators, including Art’s Tavern, Anderson’s Market, Northwoods Hardware and Cherry Republic played a crucial role. Some businesses re-opened, albeit in the dark, on Thursday. The storm inevitably hurt sales in the height of the tourism season.

Glen Arbor lost many century-old trees in the storm. Some fell on homes and cars. This was clearly the worst natural disaster in recent memory to befall our town.

Stay tuned for more updates — and photos — as we monitor the situation. (And feel free to comment or email with citizen journalism updates. Stay safe!)


Update, 1 a.m., Aug. 9, Volunteers needed to assess the damage

Matt Ansorge, Director of Emergency Management for Leelanau County, reports that volunteers are needed to help assess the damage to properties around Glen Arbor and the area affected by the storm. Volunteers can meet at 1 p.m. on Monday at Glen Lake School. “Currently, our damage assessment team has been able to complete approximately 45% of the necessary assessment throughout the County, the majority of which has been from the Glen Arbor area,” writes Ansore. “Until recently, affected areas were not accessible or even safe to enter due to utility issues and unstable conditions. … The conditions are improving dramatically and just yesterday our team was able to assess 263 structures. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the manpower in order to meet deadlines expected by the State and need to reach out to any volunteers that are willing to assist in this operation.”

“Volunteers will need to bring their own vehicles, be able to walk around debris on private property, take pictures with their own cameras or smart phones, and bring a notepad to record the information. … The importance of this damage assessment process is that it gives the representatives at the state level a more accurate picture of the devastation we have endured. Based upon this information, they will make the determination whether to elevate the state of emergency to the state level or not. I am confident that if we can get this information in to the state in a timely manner, it will be clear that we are well beyond our capabilities to recover from this disaster.”

Barring any unforeseen developments, this will be our last blog update about the Aug. 2 megastorm, and Glen Arbor’s recovery. It’s to catch up on sleep, family time, work, and prepare to publish our Aug. 13 edition of the Glen Arbor Sun — which will recap the historic storm. Look for this collectors edition at businesses around Leelanau County the middle of the coming week. (Thanks for reading. It’s been a great honor to serve Glen Arbor.)

Update, 4:30 p.m., Aug. 7, Sleeping Bear Dune Climb to re-open tomorrow

According to Merrith Baughman at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will likely open tomorrow morning, since power has now been restored to most of the Glen Arbor region. Many popular swim spots, such as Glen Haven, North Bar Lake and Esch Road are already open, as are great hiking trails such as Pyramid Point, Windy Moraine, Shauger Hill and Bayview. The Sleeping Bear Point trail will open soon. DH Day campground won’t open until next week (estimated Wednesday), however, as trees and power lines are still down there. So your National Park is basically open.

Update, 3:30 p.m., Aug. 7, Cheers at Cherry Republic

NextStormBob Sutherland reports that cheers erupted at Cherry Republic, on Lake Street in downtown Glen Arbor, when electricity returned this afternoon. (We’ll try and track down video, audio or photos). Meanwhile, linemen are reportedly working fast to restore power to homes along M-109 before the next storm arrives. Yep, that’s right, check out the radar 🙁 Looks like rain … can’t imagine it’ll be anything like Sunday’s megastorm, however.

Meanwhile, Glen Arbor is quickly returning to normal. La Becasse is open for dinner tonight (Call this temporary number, 231-392-2015, for reservations). Beach Bards Bonfire at the Leelanau School will conclude its 27th season of by-heart poetry, storytelling and music tonight at the Leelanau School beach, including some old friends with guitars (Children’s Hour starts at 8 p.m., adult hour at around 9:15.). And Lake Street Studios’ next gallery open commences at 6 p.m.

Update, 2:40 p.m., Aug. 7 Power, Power!

Electricity has returned to Glen Arbor! We are no longer in the dark ages. 80 minutes shy of five days after the megastorm, Consumers Power, emergency rescue workers, linemen, sawyers and law enforcement, oh and everyone who selflessly lent a hand to neighbors in need … you are heroes, in our book.

Update, 10:30 a.m., Aug. 7, Bring back the “Arbor”

BringBacktheArborThis week’s Cherry Republic Orchard Report, a weekly e-newsletter that reaches tens of thousands, boasts a lofty and admirable new campaign: a “Bring the Arbor Back to Glen Arbor” fundraiser.

“As the story of the great summer storm of 2015 has been publicized by the national media, many people have reached out with a desire to help,” writes Bob Sutherland. “We have an idea — let’s create a fund for making sure all the fallen trees around Glen Arbor get removed and then, this spring, let’s replant the key viewpoints and corners of Glen Arbor with new trees. As an extra incentive for those of you compelled to donate, Cherry Republic will match all donations one to one. Click here to donate to the “Arbor” campaign.

Read our full archive of the August 2015 Storm with photos.