Two beach houses collapsed along the North Carolina coast and were swept away by powerful Atlantic Ocean waves and high tides, US National Park Service officials said.
The two unoccupied homes — housed apart at 24265 and 24235 Ocean Drive — were in the Outer Banks community of Rodanthe, and no one was injured. The park service closed areas around homes as debris from homes spread. Officials said they would work closely with landlords to coordinate cleanup coordination.
The two houses that collapsed on Tuesday marked the third time a house has been swept away by the waves. A Rodanthe house similarly collapsed in February. A public meeting in March organized by the National Park Service noted that up to nine more homes in the area were on the verge of collapse following more than a decade of shoreline erosion.
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“Unfortunately, there may be more homes collapsing 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.”
Coastal flood warnings and high wave advisories were in effect through Thursday for the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.
According to a photographer at the scene, Don Bowers, the second house to collapse took just four minutes to crumble into the ocean and fall apart. Only the upper level of the house remained intact.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a contingency plan in place to immediately deploy park service staff and volunteer crews if homes fall in the waves.
The North Carolina coast is made up of narrow, low-lying barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks, where sandbags are set up to fend off the waves. However, holding the islands in place by artificial means could make properties even more vulnerable to being overtaken by waves.
Federal approval is granted to protect only infrastructure, public safety and public travel. Private, expensive beach cottages that are at risk of collapsing into the ocean are not eligible, the national park said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Beach houses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks collapse into the Atlantic Ocean