Beach goers react as oceanfront house collapses in Rodanthe

RODANTHE, N.C. (WITN) – An unoccupied house in Rodanthe completely collapsed early Tuesday morning around 2:30 a.m. The house has succumbed to the relentless force of nature, and although the cleanup crew has been working on it, the debris floating into the water is posing concerns to the community.

Mattresses, pipes, drywall, and other debris are all that is left of the house on the beach in the village of Rodanthe.

Chloe Watkins has been coming to this area her whole life, and this year, the sight of the house caught her attention a few days ago.

“The first thing we did was we walked right down here, and we noticed was that the house was leaning. They had informed me that it has been leaning for a long time,” Watkins said.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park Service Superintendent Dave Hallac says this is the sixth house to collapse in the past four years.

“The primary factor for these houses to become threatened oceanfront structures, meaning that they are vulnerable to the ocean is erosion. Erosion is a natural process that occurs on most barrier islands, like the one we are standing on today, which is the Hatteras island,” Hallac explained.

Hallac added that the weather conditions and the rising sea levels from climate change enhance the erosion affecting oceanfront houses.

According to NASA, sea levels have risen about four inches since January 1993, a trend that shows no signs of reversing course.

The ocean absorbs the extra heat in the atmosphere, and in doing so, it expands, pushing the sea levels higher.

Watkins says having the debris by the water and floating into the ocean raises concerns.

“I think that the word should be put out there that people should be more educated about the risks of having a beachfront house. I mean, this is a prime example of what can happen,” Watkins shared.

The section of the beach from Sea Haven Drive to South Shore Drive is closed due to the collapse.

The clean-up is managed by the contractor hired by the property owner and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park Service.

According to Superintendent Hallac, the cleanup will take a week. If the debris washes up at nearby beaches, the public is advised to stay away from it for safety reasons.