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Beach Houses on the Outer Banks Are Being Swallowed by the Sea

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Rodanthe, NC — Like millions of others this week, Hien Pham sways in a giant cork-like excitement as a two-story pea green beach house collapses into the ocean. I was amazed at the online video of the situation.

This particular giant cork, formerly on the 24265 Ocean Drive, belonged to Mr. Pham.He bought a 4 bedroom place November 2020 $ 275,000.

“It’s definitely a feeling you can’t explain,” Fam, 30, a real estate agent in Knoxville, Tennessee, said in a telephone interview. “Just look at what was once there, it’s not there anymore.”

He added that the feeling was “quite empty.”

Ocean Drive has three major beachfront compartments empty. This is an attractive, sloppy Outer Bank subsection called the Trade Winds Beach, which, due to the regrets of its owners, has become a kind of poster district for rising sea levels. Video of Mr. Fam’s house collapsed on Tuesday, Widely shared on social media. The former generous beaches in front of the house have almost disappeared in recent months, leaving them vulnerable to the devastating forces of the Atlantic Ocean.

The first house on the street emerged on February 9th. The second home is a two-story Garcy location with a double wraparound porch owned by Californian Ralph Patriceri, requested by the sea hours before Mr. Fam.

“I talked to a contractor who helped with the cleanup. He said there was nothing left in our house,” Patriceri said. “I don’t know where I went, but it’s just gone.”

The gradual nature of sea level rise means that for many coastal areas it can feel like a distant threat. This does not apply to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a delicate chain of barrier islands facing the Atlantic Ocean. According to federal officials, sea level in the region rises about an inch every five years, and climate change is one of the main reasons. According to state officials, some Outer Banks beaches shrink by more than 14 feet a year in some areas.

William Sweet, an expert on rising sea levels at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: Atmospheric control.

Experts and locals say that coastal erosion is a natural and unavoidable process in thin lands such as Hatteras Island, where trade wind beaches are one of the many endangered areas. .. Barrier islands are hit by storms on the sea side, sand moves west and deposits on the bay side.

David Hallack, director of national parks in eastern North Carolina, said rising seas and increased frequency and intensity of storms are likely to intensify the erosion of Ocean Drive, which borders the Hatteras Island National Coast. I did. Patriceri, who had never suspected climate change, said the disappearance of his home removed the issue from the realm of abstraction.

“I think it was naive that it wouldn’t affect me at just the right level,” he said. “By experiencing this, I have reached a whole new level in my mind about how serious climate change is.”

The last two houses were destroyed during a few days of Nor’easter, pushing sand and wind into North Carolina Highway 12 and closing an important two-lane route to Hatteras Island for more than a day. On Thursday, Ocean Drive was a mess after the storm. Like a snowstorm, the pavement was buried under a few feet of sand. Fragments and other debris from two homes spread south along the coast and were scattered. The happy name beach rental (“Kai Surf House”) was almost empty. The TV news crew was roaming around. Mark Gray, a worker at a cleaning company, was rubbing the wreckage of Mr. Patriceri’s house with an excavator.

“Mother Nature is angry,” he said, “or something.”

Mr. Harak stood in front of where Patriceri’s house was, and wrinkled his nose as the stink from a broken septic tank drifted toward him. None of this was surprising, he said. Officials in Dare County, North Carolina, he said, informed his office that when the first home collapsed, eight homes on the street were determined to be dangerous to live in.

“So I contacted the homeowner and said,’Hey, can you move your home or get rid of it?'” Harack said. I did.

Both of these options are likely to be experienced by more real estate owners over the next 30 years, a period of time when sea level along the U.S. coastline is likely to rise an average of one foot. , Turned out to be a problem for Ocean Drive homeowners.More coastal floods, federal reports from multiple agencies release During February.

Robert Coleman, the owner of a house that collapsed in February, was considering moving or demolishing the site. He found that the insurance company would pay him if the house was destroyed by the sea, but not if he destroyed the house himself. Coleman said he had contacted a company that would move the house 35 feet inland at a cost of $ 185,000. It was too much for him to get angry. So the tide took it away.

“I got a call from the park service.’Your house has just collapsed. Please come and clean it up,” Coleman said. The debris washed the beach for miles. He said the total cleanup cost was $ 57,000.

Patriceri said two of his neighbors had moved their homes inland. But he said it seemed like he was buying a little bit of time. “It doesn’t mean that moving home doesn’t cause any problems,” he said. “We can see what the ocean can do.”

Elsewhere on Hatteras Island, some communities have adopted a solution called beach nourishment. This includes replenishing the beach with sand pumped from offshore.But it’s a costly task, and Danny Couch, a member of the Dare County Commission, said he said. A new elevated road may soon open next to the flood-prone highway 12 near Ocean Drive, which could convince park services that such a project is needed to protect critical infrastructure. I was skeptical about whether I could do it.

So far, the dream of having Mr. Patriceri’s rental investment property (a property where his coastal families can gather and make memories) is lost. However, some seaside homes still attract visitors. Stephanie Wire, a Pennsylvania truck dispatcher just up the beach from Patriceri’s grounds, enjoyed the vacation with his family to the fullest, given the weather and drama. She said she would return to the same house next year, but she wondered if she would lose her neighborhood 20 years later.

A few houses away, Matt Story walked around the outdoor deck of the beachfront home he bought in November and named it “Mermaid’s Dream.” He estimated that there was about 70 feet of sand between the house and the beach when the house was closed. On Thursday, the waves were rushing to the stakes of the house.

Story, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, said he was somewhat confident in buying a home, especially since he was returned from the sea at a cost of $ 200,000 in 2018. He owns another location nearby and expected the erosion problem to occur in the end, but not so soon.

For now, he said he would continue to rent the place. But he said he was worried about losing his investment.

“We are stressed,” he said. “The worst thing that can happen is that I can’t sell it, I can’t move it, I can’t get rid of it, and I can’t rent it.”

Mr. Story said his “nuclear option” was to move to Ocean Drive and live full-time in his home, but that also entailed obvious risks. “I have no plans,” he said. “My plan is to get through it.”

Alain Delaqué rière Contributed to the research.

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