Climate Crisis

Watch: Shocking footage shows 2 North Carolina homes claimed by rising seas

Originally Published: 
NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Guglielmo Giambartolomei / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a popular tourist destination, home to wildlife preserves, beaches, and idyllic homes right on the water.

Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

But the region is especially prone to rising sea levels due to coastal erosion — and its residents are already feeling the shift.

NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

On February 9, a house in the unincorporated Outer Banks community of Rodanthe collapsed onto the shore after being battered by incoming waves.

This month, two more houses in Rodanthe were taken by the tide.

NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This video shared by National Park Service employees at Cape Hatteras National Seashore shows the first house after it collapsed.

NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

And this view shows the second house dramatically toppling into the water.

Thankfully, both homes were unoccupied at the time of their collapse.

But for other residents of Rodanthe — and those across the Outer Banks — the collapse might be an ominous sign of things to come.

NPS/Cape Hatteras National Seashore

“Unfortunately, there may be more houses that collapse onto Seashore beaches in the near future.”

Michele Rinaldi / 500px/500px/Getty Images

Every year, the sea level along the Outer Banks rises 5.3 millimeters on average — which doesn’t sound like a lot, but those small increments add up over time.

Here is the location of one of the collapsed houses in 1998. Notice how far it was from the seashore at this time.

Google Earth

Here’s the same house, from the same angle, in 2019.

Google Earth/Maxar Technologies

Human activities, like building jetties and groins, can erode beaches over time.

Today, North Carolina has a ban on building these hard structures.

Jeff Carboni / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

And communities in the Outer Banks are already working to combat the rising tides and increased flooding — which are likely to get worse as the climate warms.

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