Severe erosion caused by Hurricane Ike may make many homes illegal
Hundreds of beach houses on the gulf coast of Texas may soon be declared illegal and seized under a state law that prohibits houses from being built (or remaining) between a beach’s high and low tide marks. Hurricane Ike’s 12-foot storm surge and 100-mile-per-hour winds severely eroded many Texas beaches and redrew the tide lines enough that even many beach houses that survived the hurricane intact could be seized by the state under the law and eventually be returned to beach. Texas officials said it would be about a year or more before they decide for sure which houses violate the law, but homeowners whose beachfront houses were damaged or completely destroyed said that the uncertainty of whether their house will be seized is already making them rethink expensive repairs. Experts say that simply repairing the beaches isn’t possible; even if tons of sand were trucked in, it would all wash away in a year or so. “We’re talking about damn fools that have built houses on the edge of the sea for as long as man could remember and against every advice anyone has given,” said the former state senator who wrote the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act.