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Excessive Erosion Sweeps Hawaii Homes Out To Sea

Dec 30, 2013 | Updated Jan 23, 2014

For most of Hawaii, the winter means big swells and excellent surfing. But for one neighborhood, the recent waves caught more than just surfers. Rocky Point, a small neighborhood on the famed north shore of Oahu, is scrambling as yards, decks and even jacuzzis are being pulled out to sea.

"The deck that was out front of the house fell off Thursday night," homeowner Greg Quinn told KITV, "and it began undermining the foundation of the house."

The excessive erosion is unprecedented for many shoreline property owners. While past winter swells didn't cause problems, last week's waves claimed backyards overnight.

The nearby neighborhood of Sunset Beach saw similar erosion earlier this year, as did the famous Waikiki beach. A recent University of Hawaii study forecasted that more of the state's homes may be at risk, with the state on pace to lose up to 100 feet of beach in the coming decades.

Efforts to protect the shoreline at Rocky Point seem both futile and dangerous as construction debris continue to fall into the waves. Some residents have taken preemptive measures such as deconstructing -- i.e., amputating -- portions of their home so as to not lose them to the pounding surf.

"You heard the water crashing, the deck cracking and the jacuzzi sliding down," Kenneth Dombrowski told KITV News of his neighbors' home. "Then, their house started going, so we went over there and started cutting the deck off to slide it into the water."

Some residents are calling for emergency help from the state, likening the situation to Hurricane Sandy or the typhoon in the Philippines. "We need help immediately. People are moving out," says Tandi Kowalski. "This is a complete disaster."

Others are coming to terms with the situation, even as they try their best to fight it. One resident equated filling a sand bag to throwing a bucket of water at a forest fire, but added hopefully, "I guess you throw enough buckets of water at a forest fire and it might slow it down."

"You can't fight mother nature," he noted.

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