North Shore Oʻahu house collapses onto beach, inundated by powerful winter swells
A beachfront home at Rocky Point on Oʻahu collapsed into the sand today, inundated by powerful winter swells.
Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources called the incident a “dramatic example of climate issues.” DLNR reports that homeowners in this neighborhood have been besieged for years by the specter of losing their houses and property to nature.
Today, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case and a team from the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands went to the scene. With the home behind her listing at a 45 degree angle off the bluff, and its front room resting on the sand of the beach, Case said, “This is a terrible situation. We feel badly for the homeowner and everybody who lives along this stretch. This has been a long time coming. We knew it was going to happen eventually. It’s a dangerous situation, as debris is falling into the ocean.”
She held up a sharp-pointed piece of wood that had been floating in the wash of the waves as an illustration of the debris risk. She said the State’s responsibility now is to try and keep more material from entering the water, where surfers and other beachgoers frequent.
DLNR officials say homes located in the backshore of Oʻahu’s north shore are in a precarious position since geologically, many of these areas are made up of sandy storm berms.
“Generally, these geological features are known to be transient, and this is especially true for the north shore since it is influenced by some of the most extreme wave energy in the world. Temporary mitigation measures, like sand burritos and sand pushing, are only able to provide temporary protection to buy time to get to permanent solutions,” according to a department press release.
Case said what happened to the home at 58-181 H Ke Nui Road, is a real wake up call and unfortunately other homes here and along other vulnerable beaches elsewhere in Hawai‘i potentially face the same destructive fates.
Homeowners have pushed DLNR to do more to protect their homes, but Case explained to one property owner this morning, government can’t do everything.
“We’re up against powerful shifts in natural mechanisms and we’re all going to have to face a new future. Rocky Point is the tip of the spear, because the ocean is so dynamic and that makes it particularly difficult. There’s not much room to move homes (relocate), so it really is a hard situation,” she said.