UPDATED: Two threatened oceanfront homes in Rodanthe bought by National Park Service demolished

UPDATED: Two threatened oceanfront homes in Rodanthe bought by National Park Service demolished

November 15th, 2023

UPDATED, Thursday 4:30 p.m.: The Island Free Press reports both of a pair of threatened oceanfront houses in Rodanthe recently purchased by the National Park Service have been torn down as part of a pilot program designed to address nearly two dozen homes that are at risk of falling into the ocean along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach.

No incidents of resulting in excessive debris polluting the local shoreline, according to multiple reports. The first house was demolished on Wednesday.

With assistance from the National Park Trust and funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, properties at 23292 and 23298 East Beacon Road were purchased earlier this fall for fair market value using zero taxpayer dollars.

The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing by the U.S. Department of Interior “to acquire lands, waters, and interests therein necessary to achieve the natural, cultural, wildlife, and recreation management objectives of the National Park Service.”

Properties surrounded by ocean water at 23292 and 23298 East Beacon Road, Rodanthe in the fall of 2023. [NPS photo]
Privately-owned oceanfront houses adjacent to the Hatteras Island beaches along the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras are typical, elevated beach-style homes situated on pilings with a concrete driveway, parking pad, and septic systems.

Many private properties adjacent to the beach in Rodanthe, which previously contained backyard land, dunes, and dry sand, are either partially or fully covered with ocean water on a regular basis.

Since 2020, five privately-owned houses have collapsed in Rodanthe. Four out of the five collapses occurred over a 13-month period of time in 2022-23, including two collapses on the same day in May 2022.

Remains of a house that collapsed south of Rodanthe Pier on Feb. 11, 2022. [NPS photo]
Debris from the houses spread out along more than 17 miles of beach. Efforts by Park Service employees and public volunteers have removed much of the debris following each collapse.

Since then, the Park Service has been working with property owners, Dare County and the State of North Carolina to develop solutions to protect America’s first national seashore and its visitors.

The East Beacon Drive houses prior to demolition on Nov. 15, 2023. [Sam Walker photo]
Last week, W.M. Dunn Construction LLC of Powells Point was hired by the Park Service for $72,500 to remove threatened structures from the two properties and restore the beach over the next 30 days.

Crews from W.M. Dunn begin cutting the cross-members bracing the pilings ahead of the controlled collapse. [Sam Walker photo]
The adjoining lots at the end of East Beacon Drive will then be open to pedestrian access, but no vehicle parking will be available at the site.

National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac held a press conference prior to the demolition to share more details.

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