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Facing erosion, beachfront homes on Oahu’s North Shore brace for huge swells

Ocean safety says the surf is currently around 30 to 40 feet high.
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 6:08 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2022 at 9:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As waves reach heights of 30 to 40 feet on Oahu’s North Shore, beachfront properties brace for huge swells that have already begun to take down portions of homes.

”It breaks off like a foundation piece of the house and then it goes back into the ocean,” said Pomai Hoapili, a North Shore resident.

Hoapili captured video from a public access point to Cami’s Beach at around 7:15 a.m., which was around the time the swell peaked. He’s a neighbor to those living along the shoreline in Rocky Point and said the swell started to rise overnight.

”A lot of the shoreline properties suffer a lot of property damage, shoreline erosion. It’s pretty devastating for our community. A lot of people are losing parts of their houses,” Hoapili said.

A portion of that access point swept away.

”This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Rob Bultaggio, a North Shore resident. “This was about 16 to 20 feet that way, now, it’s receded enough to make this whole place go down. And it’s just losing more and more.”

Sandbags, burritos, cement pieces and debris filled Rocky Point Beach.

Hoapili said they’re remnants of tools property owners have been using to protect their homes.

”We know everyone wants to save their homes and also do it in the right ways, but it creates more rubbish and hazards,” he said.

As the North Shore continue to see huge swells, scientists said the problem isn’t getting any better.

”This problem is not going away. Today is yet another sort of stake in the ground,” said Chip Fletcher, interim-dean of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

“Another benchmark for us that we are not moving fast enough on managing this problem of sea level rise in shoreline retreat. These communities that are exposed to this problem do not have sufficient tools for dealing with the issue.”

Honolulu Ocean Safety said the swell reached some roadways.

”I believe when the swell peaked. We did have waves washing over the road in our Laniakea and also our Kawaena area,” said Ocean Safety Lt. Kerry Atwood.

Lifeguards said they expect the sets to remain high throughout the day and wants to remind everyone, especially visitors, to view the surf from a safe distance.

”Unfortunately, a lot of people come out to the North Shore with the idea that this is somehow a water amusement park, and we need to make that clear that this is, you know, probably some of the most dangerous surf in the world. We need people to to understand that,” Atwood said.

Ocean Safety said if you do come out to check out the surf, go to a guarded beach. Going to a more secluded beach will take first responders some time to get to you if you’re in trouble.

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