The two homes in Rodanthe were both unoccupied at the time, the agency said. Video from the agency showed the demise of one home as ocean waves caused the stilts supporting the house to teeter and fall.
“Unfortunately, there may be more houses that collapse onto Seashore beaches in the near future,” David Hallac, superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina, said in a statement. “We proactively reached out to homeowners along Ocean Drive in Rodanthe after the first house collapse and recommended that actions be taken to prevent collapse and impacts to Cape Hatteras National Seashore.”
The collapses occurred on a pristine stretch of beach emblematic of why the Outer Banks is a major tourist destination every summer. Yet coastal communities like those on the Outer Banks face increasing risk due to sea level rise, worsening erosion and high tide flooding.
Homes had been in danger for months
The collapses in Rodanthe occurred during severe weather and flood-level high tides.
High tides were forecast to be above flood stage through at least Wednesday, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore said earlier this week. “This recent ocean front water level forecast is concerning,” the post said.
Parts of Cape Hatteras are under a coastal flood warning and high surf advisory until Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The beach near Ocean Drive has been closed and authorities will also be closing Ocean Drive in fear that other houses might collapse.
A spokesperson for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore said that the houses that fell Tuesday were determined to be unsafe and in danger of collapse months ago by the Dare County Planning Department. The storm system hastened the collapses, but the stretch of beach adjacent to Ocean Drive has been closed since February due to the hazards from the houses, the spokesperson said.
North Carolina Highway 12, which runs through the Outer Banks, remains closed from the Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.