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Ice damaging docks at Lake of the Ozarks, could damage more as melt continues

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:56 PM CST
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CAMDENTON, Mo. (KY3) - While it may be the time of year many people begin plans to build new docks, one dock builder in Camdenton said the last several days have been all about repairing docks that already exist.

Temperatures have warmed, but the winter freeze from last week is still sticking around. Large sheets of ice are still scattered across the Lake of the Ozarks, causing significant damage to many docks across the area.

“The thicker ice out by the shore kind of took precedent and started pushing everything out towards the middle of the lake,” Atlas Docks owner Matt Hasselbring said Tuesday.

That includes docks on the lake. While there might not be docks just floating in the middle of the lake, Hasselbring said some sheets of ice have in fact pushed some slightly away from shore.

“As the water freezes and expands it’s pushing out, so it’s damaging ramp connections, main walks in the sub frame, which is the part you walk on,” he said. “It’s pushing foam out from underneath the dock which is what makes the dock float.”

Hasselbring said serious problems can arise if the foam flotation devices are pushed out from underneath docks.

“So if you push that out it’s going to sink,” he said. “You know, it will go down.”

Some docks have even been damaged as they slide away from the tight suspension cables connecting them to the shoreline.

“It’s just being ripped apart,” he said. “Something has got to give. The cable is tight. The ramp is tight to the dock and to the sea wall. It’s not going to take two inches. Steel is going to break, it will rip out.”

Hasselbring said issues have also happened as a result of cables not being tight.

“We did have some issues with cables freezing in the ice, making it difficult to tighten them,” he said. “The dock can be pushed out, which pulls away further from the shore. When the water was going down, if that cable was frozen in ice and the dock was trying to go down, we saw where docks were being held down and also where they were being held up.”

A few have even been pulled under by ice forming on the dock.

“[This] dock froze in the water,” Hasselbring said as he explained a picture of a dock leaning into the water. “It was being held down. And then the water came up over night and the ice got on the dock to where so much weight is just pulling it down.”

Hasselbring said he has been overwhelmed with repair calls lately and estimates some 40% of docks across the lake have been impacted one way or another.

On top of some of the damage that already exists, he said some sheets of ice may separate and potentially drift out and damage other things in their way as temperatures cause more melting.

Hasselbring suggests using a dock de-icer or turning on your hoists to help form air bubbles underwater, which could help melt ice sheets above. He said many of these repairs could range from a price of $500 to a whole new dock.

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