RODANTHE, N.C. — Like millions of other people this week, Hien Pham marveled at the online video of the two-story, pea-green beach house as it collapsed into a rising sea, left to bob in the agitated surf like a giant cork.
This particular giant cork, formerly located at 24265 Ocean Drive, was Mr. Pham’s. He had purchased the four-bedroom place in November 2020 for $275,000.
“It’s definitely a feeling that you can’t explain,” said Mr. Pham, 30, a Knoxville, Tenn., real estate agent, in a phone interview. “Just to see something that once was there, and it’s not there anymore.”
The feeling, he added, “is pretty empty.”
Three prime beachfront lots are now empty on Ocean Drive, a small stretch of a charmingly scruffy Outer Banks subdivision called Trade Winds Beaches that has, to the chagrin of its property owners, become a sort of poster neighborhood for sea-level rise — particularly since the video of Mr. Pham’s house, which collapsed Tuesday, was shared widely on social media. The once-generous stretch of beach in front of the houses has largely vanished in recent months, leaving them vulnerable to the destructive power of the Atlantic Ocean.
released in February.
Robert Coleman, the owner of the house that fell in February, had considered moving or tearing down the place. He discovered that insurance companies would pay him for the house if it was destroyed by the ocean, but not if he tore it down himself. Mr. Coleman said he got in touch with a company that would move his house 35 feet inland, at a cost of $185,000. It was too much for him to stomach. So the tide took it away.
“I got a call from the park service saying, ‘Your house just fell. Come get it cleaned up,’” Mr. Coleman said. The debris washed down the coast for miles. The total cleanup, he said, cost him $57,000.
Mr. Patricelli said that two of his neighbors have moved their houses inland. But he said that only seemed to be buying a little time. “Moving the house doesn’t mean you’re not going to have problems,” he said. “We can see what the ocean can do.”