RODANTHE, N.C. -- Heavy surf from the Atlantic Ocean claimed two homes along North Carolina's Outer Banks Tuesday.
An unoccupied home in Rodanthe fell into the surf during the morning hours, according to officials with Cape Hatteras National Seashore National Park. A second unoccupied home collapsed a short time later, NPS officials said.
And officials worry additional homes in the area may collapse as large swells continue to pound the Outer Banks due to a strong and stubborn storm system swirling offshore.
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The storm's relentless onshore winds have brought large, breaking waves of 10-15 feet, pushing ocean flood waters inland 2-4 feet above ground level, overwhelming some sand dunes and causing closures of Highway 12 along parts of the Outer Banks.
Coastal Flood Warnings and High Surf Advisories remain in effect all the way into Thursday with the stalled system offshore. "This is a long duration event with conditions peaking through Wednesday," National Weather Service forecasters wrote. "Low lying property including homes, businesses, and some critical infrastructure will be inundated."
Those two homes are not the first to fall victim to the Atlantic. A home four houses down fell into the surf in February, according to the National Park Service. The homeowner, neighbors and volunteers have spent the past few months cleaning up that debris. Now officials have closed the beach area near the collapsed home to protect the public from new debris hazards.
North Carolina property records show the collapsed homes were built in 1980 and 1985, and many homes along that stretch of beach have been there 30 years or more. But beach erosion over the years has brought the Atlantic to their front door.
"Unfortunately, there may be more houses that collapse onto Seashore beaches in the near future," David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina, wrote in a release to the press. "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."