Beachfront homes take pounding from Hurricane Chris

As Hurricane Chris spins off the Outer Banks, it's not only creating rip currents, it's also causing coastal erosion.

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Kacey Cunningham
, WRAL reporter
RODANTHE, N.C. — As Hurricane Chris spins off the Outer Banks, it's not only creating rip currents, it's also causing coastal erosion.

A vacation home on Ocean Drive called Mermaid's Tears was condemned Monday by Dare County authorities as erosion tore the house apart and made it no longer safe to inhabit.

"You just heard a big crack and then a rumble, and then it fell into the water," said Janie Steffen, who was on a beach vacation with her family from Ohio. "I've been around beaches. This is the first time I've seen something like this happen."

Neighbors are taking bets on how many more waves it will take for the beach house to go into the water.

"We do have a pretty good show going on. Everyone keeps walking down here to look at it," Steffen said. "Watching people try and walk underneath that is scary because it looks like it's about to snap off at any moment, and people just keep walking under it."

The house was scheduled to be moved off the beach, and if it survives the storm, the owners said they plan to try and do that in the next few days and salvage as much of it as they can.

The house next to where the Steffens are staying was evacuated, but the family is determined to stay where they are.

"They offered to move us to a different house, but we feel pretty safe right there because the water hasn't gotten that far up yet," she said.

The destruction has prompted Dare County authorities to warn people about debris in the water as well as dangerous rip currents.

"We definitely want folks to be very vigilant for any of that kind of debris," said Stacey Sigler, safety manager for the National Parks Service's Outer Banks Group. "As we're finding the debris, locals will help us pull it up on the beach and help us get it out of the way, but the main thing is to be very cognizant that debris may exist as the storm is passing us."

Steffan said she and her family have seen plenty of storm debris.

"We're just pulling all the nails out on the water," she said. "We've been pulling wood out because we have little children with us that keep getting in the water."

Although the storm has pounded the beachfront, N.C. Highway 12 near Rodanthe, which typically floods in tropical storms, has been unscathed by the heavy surf.


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