Two beach houses collapsed along North Carolina's coast and were taken under by the powerful waves and high tides of the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. 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 hurt. The park service closed the areas around the houses as debris from the homes spread. Officials said they'd work closely with the homeowners to coordinate in coordinating cleanup.
The two homes that collapsed Tuesday marked the third time a house was taken under by the surf. A Rodanthe house collapsed in similar fashion in February. A public meeting in March hosted by the National Park Service noted that up to nine additional homes in the area were on the verge of collapsing as a result of more than a decade of erosion on the shoreline.
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"Unfortunately, there may be more houses that collapse onto Seashore beaches in the near future," David Hallac, superintendent of 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."
Coastal flooding warnings and high surf advisories were in effect through Thursday in North Carolina's Outer Banks region, according to the National Weather Service.
According to a photographer on the scene, Don Bowers, the second home to go down took only four minutes to collapse into the ocean and break apart. Only the top level of the home remained intact.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore has an emergency plan in place to deploy park service staff and volunteer teams immediately if houses fall into the surf.
North Carolina's coast consists of narrow, low-lying barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks, where sandbags are put up as a way to fend off the waves. Holding the islands in place by artificial means could make the properties even more vulnerable to be overtaken by waves, however.
Federal approval is granted to protect only infrastructure, public safety and public travel. The private and pricey beach cottages in jeopardy of collapsing into the ocean do not qualify, the national park said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Outer Banks North Carolina beach houses collapse into Atlantic ocean
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