The sea stole yet another oceanfront home in Rodanthe, North Carolina (USA). In this small community bordered by water, the erosion Severe coastal conditions have driven many homeowners out of their beachfront homes before they face a similar fate.
A house located at East Point Drive (number 23228) collapsed around noon on Monday, local authorities said. This is the fourth home that the sea has destroyed since early last year, in a community facing one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion and sea level rise on the East Coast of the United States.
Noah Gillam, director of planning in Dare County (where Rodanthe is located), said officials from the county and the US National Park Service, which also monitors the coast, had been able to contact the homeowners, who it had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The person in charge said that the electricity had been cut off in that house since last May, when officials considered the house unsafe to live in.
“The owner will be responsible for cleaning the property,” Gillam said in an email, saying they were “on patrol in the surrounding areas.”
The National Park Service also said in a statement that while most of the debris from the collapsed home had so far remained near the site, “Visitors should exercise caution when participating in recreational activities on the beach and in the ocean” near the home.
“It’s painful,” said City Commissioner Danny Couch, who went to survey the damage on Monday afternoon. “The truth is, they’re just structures, bricks and mortar. But at the same time, they’re someone’s dreams.”
How to save houses from the invading sea?
Federal data shows that in neighboring Oregon inlet, sea levels are about 18 centimeters higher than they were several decades ago, with no signs of easing. State data also show that parts of Rodanthe have been losing a dozen meters or more a year due to erosion.
As more homes have fallen into the ocean and the beach has disappeared, dozens of homeowners in the area have struggled to move their homes away from the encroaching sea, even knowing that such an expensive move could only earn them a little. of time.
“I’ve lived there for 20 years, and in the last year, I’m seeing shoreline erosion like we’ve never seen,” he told the The Washington Post, recently, Cindy Doughty, a longtime resident who is currently paying to move her home to nearby South Shore Drive. “It’s really dramatic.”
Move the houses back to the road
Not far away, on Seagull Street, a dozen homeowners signed affidavits last year asking Dare County for permission to abandon the road that runs in front of their homes so that they could have more space to move their homes one by one. a little further inland, as far away from the sea as possible. The county commission authorized it.
Collective retreat is expected to begin soon and, as elsewhere along this stretch of precarious barrier island, will be at the expense of homeowners.
“Everyone wants to speculate about Mother Nature,” he recently told The Post Gus Gusler, a local homeowner who plans to move his house. “Mother Nature will do what Mother Nature will do.”
How is it paid?
Over time, tensions have mounted in Rodanthe over what further erosion will mean for real estate values, tourism and quality of life – as well as over what must be done to tackle the problem and who is responsible. . Many landowners argue that the government should be doing more to help combat erosion, and that prospective buyers should be better informed about the increasing risks.
Many government officials have voiced solidarity on their own behalf with landlords struggling to protect their properties, but also insist there is little they can do in the short term to help. No injection of state or federal cash seems likely in the short term.
At a January meeting with Rodanthe residents, some Dare County officials explained that there have been several projects that have made the beaches more robust in the vicinity, but they have been funded in part by municipalities, as well as through revenue from a hotel occupancy tax. and vacation rentals.
Rodanthe’s small tax base does not currently generate enough to cover such a massive and ongoing project, said county manager Bobby Outten. And the county’s beach restoration fund is currently only worth around $6 million. An engineering study carried out a decade ago concluded that such an operation would cost 20 million dollars (about 18.6 million euros) in Rodanthe, a figure that would certainly be higher in 2023.
“The question then becomes: How do you pay?” asked themselves at the January meeting.
Living on top of the ocean
Still, continued coastal erosion and landslides like the one on Monday continue to leave area owners unsettled and frustrated.
“The beach is still not clean, it’s a safety issue,” Matthew Storey, owner of a beachfront property, told authorities at the January meeting, referring to houses that had collapsed months earlier. “Whenever I go for a walk, I’m picking up wood.”
According to property records, the 103-square-meter house that collapsed on Monday was built in 1976, when there was much more beach between the structure and the ocean. The house, which appeared to be nicknamed “I Can Smell The Ocean” (I Can Smell the Ocean), is listed as owned by a Pennsylvania family, whom we were unable to contact for this article.
Couch, the city commissioner, said there was nothing particular about the weather on Monday, with rough seas throwing up strong waves to churn the coastline. The ocean was a little rougher than usual, but such conditions are common during the winter months.
“But that’s enough to knock some of these houses down,” Couch said.
In fact, there are other houses nearby that are already closer to the water than the property that was knocked over on Monday, the commissioner said. “Their day will come very soon.”