‘We need help’: North Shore home collapse has neighbors on edge

The collapse of a Rocky Point home early Monday has left beachfront homeowners in the North Shore community on edge.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 4:44 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 6:49 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The collapse of a Rocky Point home early Monday has left beachfront homeowners in the North Shore community on edge.

One of them confronted the head of the state Land Board as she visited the site.

“Can I save my house and do what I need to do?” said Todd Dunphy as he addressed state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case.

“We need help, ma’am. Can I save my house?”

Hugo Villalobos is the tenant of the collapsed home on Ke Nui Road that crashed into the beach early Monday. He had been living there for nearly 30 years.

“I just seen the house like this and it just broke my heart. It’s terrible,” said Villalobos. “I’m glad that I escaped with not getting hurt or killed.”

If it weren’t for Villalobos’ friend suggesting he stay in the back house Sunday evening, he said he would’ve slept in his own home because he felt it was “perfectly safe.”

Villalobos recalled the water slamming against the foundation of his home and slowly eating it up.

“I walked out there 12 at night ... I looked at it (and) I was like, man, it’s never gonna stop,” said Villalobos. “And then around ... 1:30 I heard crack, slam and I knew the house was gone.”

Just last Friday, Villalobos’ home was in one piece and stood about 20 feet above the shoreline.

He said he has tried to find different tools to protect his home, but the state has strict policies.

“They said don’t don’t do sandbags, don’t do concrete,” said Villalobos. “You know, the state says you can’t do (it) so what happens I guess when you abide by the rules.”

“But the rules were the rules and we just kept to them and unfortunately it turned out the wrong way.”

Dunphy, who lives two doors down, has also been pleading with the state for permission to erect more permanent barriers to protect their homes.

“This area is in heavy crisis. ... They’re leaving us to hang literally hang. That house was hanging yesterday,” he said.

Beachfront homeowners have been using temporary measures such as pushing sand on the beach or erecting sand burritos ― even if they don’t have the permits from the state.

They say these temporary measures aren’t enough.

“I think they should get a federal entity to come in and do just rocks or some kind of barrier like they do in Mailbu or Florida,” said Dunphy.

Case said that’s not going to happen.

“The permanent solutions cannot be seawalls because this is a public beach. This is a world-famous public beach,” she said.

“It’s a terrible situation. We knew it was coming but to see it happen ― the house falling in ― it’s a shock to everyone.”

Residents said the high water mark, which separates their property from the public beach, has shifted over the years, moving closer and eroding the foundation of their homes.

“The North Shore has never been bombarded by this many west swells in years,” said Dunphy.

Case agreed. “It’s a combination of climate change, sea level rise, wave patterns changing and the wave energy here which has always been dynamic but it’s getting worse and worse,” she said.

Case said one long-term solution would be to move homes further inland but many homeowners don’t have enough land to do that.

“It is a rock and hard place ... literally,” said Case.

“Unfortunately for some there aren’t any good solutions.”

Friends of Villalobos have created a GoFundMe Page to help replace some of his and his roommate’s belongings and cover repairs to the home.

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