Another House Collapses At Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This house in Rodanthe on Cape Hatteras National Seashore was thought to have collapsed early Tuesday morning/NPS

Crews were expected Tuesday afternoon to begin cleaning up the debris from an unoccupied house that collapsed into the ocean at Rodanthe, North Carolina, in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It marked the sixth time in the past four years that the ocean has claimed a house on the seashore.

The house, at 24131 Ocean Drive in Rodanthe, likely collapsed around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, a seashore release said.

To help ensure the safety of visitors and allow for cleanup activities to occur, an approximately one-mile section of beach was closed from Sea Haven Drive to South Shore Drive, the release said. Due to the direction that the debris was expected to drift, visitors were urged to avoid the beaches north of Sea Haven Drive into the southern portion of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Dangerous debris may be present on the beach and in the water, the release said. Additional beach closures may be necessary as the debris spreads and cleanup efforts proceed.

The Park Service at Cape Hatteras anticipated the arrival of a debris removal contractor, hired by the property owner, Tuesday afternoon.

Prior to Tuesday’s house collapse, four out of the five previous house collapses occurred over a 13-month period of time, including two collapses on the same day.

  • May 29, 2020: An unoccupied house collapsed during the overnight hours at 23238 Sea Oats Drive, Rodanthe.
  • February 9, 2022: On a calm winter day, an unoccupied house collapsed at 24183 Ocean Drive, Rodanthe.
  • May 10, 2022: During a multi-day nor’easter, an unoccupied house collapsed at 24235 Ocean Drive, Rodanthe. The collapsed occurred during the early morning hours.
  • May 10, 2022: During a multi-day nor’easter, an unoccupied house collapsed at 24265 Ocean Drive, Rodanthe. The collapse occurred during the early afternoon hours.
  • March 13, 2023: During inclement weather, an unoccupied house collapsed at 23228 East Point Drive, Rodanthe.

Following the first house collapse, the Park Service has taken a variety of actions to help protect America’s first national seashore and its visitors including:

  • Communications with owners of collapsed houses regarding the importance of removing debris from seashore beaches. Unfortunately, owner-initiated cleanup efforts have not always adequately restored beaches, so the seashore has supplemented cleanup activities and sought cost recovery for costs associated with additional beach restoration.
  • Implementation of closures around other threatened houses in Rodanthe to provide for visitor safety during severe weather events or as a result of rough surf conditions.
  • Cleanup of miles of beach debris associated with each house collapse.
  • In partnership with Dare County, communicated with dozens of owners of other threatened houses to relay concerns about the structural stability of pilings and decks and exposed septic tanks and wires. Owners of threatened structures were strongly urged to fix issues or relocate the house, if possible.
  • Hosted multiple public meetings regarding threatened oceanfront structures in Rodanthe.
  • Helped form the Threatened Oceanfront Structures Interagency Work Group. The work group was established in August, 2022, to engage with partner organizations and stakeholders to identify, research, and recommend policy and/or program improvements to establish more proactive, comprehensive, and predictable strategies for addressing structures at immediate risk of collapse.

The Park Service recently purchased two threatened oceanfront properties and associated structures in Rodanthe. Thanks to the National Park Trust for their assistance and funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, properties at 23292 and 23298 East Beacon Road were purchased for fair market value using zero taxpayer dollars. Fair market value was determined by a certified appraiser and the Department of the Interior’s Appraisal and Valuation Services Office.

The purchase of the two properties on East Beacon Road was pursued for the following reasons:

  • To mitigate the ongoing impacts of having threatened oceanfront structures impact visitor safety, public health, and wildlife habitat at the Seashore.

  • To assist threatened oceanfront structure owners that do not have viable options to move the structures or promptly remove debris following potential collapse.

  • To restore the beach and make the sites a public beach access where visitors from the surrounding community can walk onto the Seashore beach areas without walking through private properties.

  • To remove the structures or have the ability to respond to their collapse and clean up debris in a much quicker manner; thereby, minimizing impacts to park areas and visitors.

  • To evaluate the feasibility of a larger program.

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