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McClatchy Newspapers

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — A devouring sea has frayed the front lines of this old beach resort.

Kids splashed last summer in the waves under an oceanfront row of cottages on the eroding south end. Huge sandbags fortified pilings, and the steps of condemned houses dangled in the air above the sand.

“We wanted close to the beach, and that’s exactly what we got,” vacationer Rod Daugherty of Greenville, Pa., said as the tide lapped under the deck of his rental house.

Rising seas probably played a role in the erosion gnawing at much of the East Coast over the past century, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. As the seas start to rise faster, it warns, erosion will only get worse.

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