2 North Carolina beach houses crumble in Atlantic waves

The National Park Service says two unoccupied beach houses fell in the waves along the North Carolina coast

RODANTHE, North Carolina — Two beach houses fell in waves along the North Carolina coast, U.S. National Park Service officials said in a statement Tuesday.

The vacant homes were located along Ocean Drive in the Outer Banks community of Rodanthe. The park service confirmed both collapses on Tuesday and closed areas around the homes.

The debris of the first fallen house was spreading widely. Officials from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, part of the park service, said they would work closely with the owner to coordinate cleanup activities.

This is the third time a house has fallen in the waves this year. A house in Rodanthe collapsed in February and spread debris across miles of beaches before the owner and volunteers could clear most of it. However, efforts to clean up small debris continue.

“Unfortunately, more homes may collapse on Seashore beaches in the near future,” David Hallac, superintendent of eastern North Carolina National Parks, said in a statement. “We proactively contacted property owners along Ocean Drive in Rodanthe after the first house collapse and recommended that action be taken to prevent the collapse and impacts to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.”

The North Carolina coast consists almost entirely of narrow, low barrier islands. Hatteras Island is part of what is known as the Outer Banks.

Hundreds of expensive vacation homes have been built there in places experts say they probably shouldn’t have been. The islands are particularly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding from both sides.

Development only compounds the problem because communities replenish shorelines that are eroding or depleted by storms. As sea levels rise, barrier islands generally move towards the mainland over long periods of time. Holding them in place by artificial means only makes them more vulnerable.