Floating houses, casting backlash, and unregulated policies

Published 5:31 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

For my column this week, I just want to share a few news stories that caught my attention in one way or another:

Plenty of people were captivated this past week by images of a house getting swept away into the ocean. The video was originally posted by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore twitter account. Within the clip, which is almost a minute and a half long, you can see waves crashing under the elevated house for a moment until the stilts finally give away and the house plummets into the ocean water. It would almost be funny to see the house floating like a makeshift houseboat if not for the piles of debris on the shore you can see in the surrounding area too.

The house in the video was the second one that day (May 10) to collapse in Rodanthe. Both were unoccupied and had already been identified as in danger of being swept away. Another nearby house had already collapsed into the sea in February this year, and the debris from that one quickly spread out for miles along the shoreline. Nine other houses in the area may also be at risk.

Many people who watched the video asked why the house was so close to the ocean, and why it hadn’t been demolished sooner. I wondered the same thing. What I discovered through various news sources was that the row of houses on the beach had been constructed back in the 1980s when the shoreline was much further away than it is now, but the ocean has been creeping closer ever since. The nor’easter currently hanging off the coast this week brought increased flooding and heavy winds to the Outer Banks, and that was essentially the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for these two houses. I can only imagine what hurricane season this year will bring.

Dare County officials reached out to homeowners in the area after the February collapse to encourage them to have a plan in place to move their homes or demolish them before nature does the work itself. But the county can’t force the homeowners to do anything proactive, and insurance policies don’t pay anything until the structure falls down. So, basically, the houses continue to sit there until the weather finally takes its toll, and then everyone is left with the monumental task of cleanup.

The more I read about this issue, the more frustrated I got with how costly this is for everyone involved. This problem will only continue to get worse, but no one will be able to afford to do anything to fix it.

Here’s another story that frustrated me, albeit in a different way than the previous one: Rick Riordan, author of the popular “Percy Jackson” series, had to make a statement this week to defend the casting of an actor in an upcoming live action adaption of his story.

For some background, actress Leah Jeffries was recently cast to play the role of Annabeth Chase. The character in the books was described as white. Jeffries is Black, and subsequently began getting harassed online by people who thought the actor should fit how they imagined the character should look.

Riordan defended the choice to cast Jeffries, noting that he insisted on diverse, inclusive casting for every role in the series. He’s the author of the books, and even he said it didn’t matter if the people matched the original descriptions!

Part of his statement reads, “You either are not aware, or have dismissed, Leah’s years of hard work honing her craft, her talent, her tenacity, her focus, her screen presence. You refuse to believe her selection could have been based on merit… Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly the way you imagine Annabeth, assuming you give her that chance, but you refuse to credit that this may be true.”

Riordan also points out that the core message of his Percy Jackson books has been that “difference is strength” and “you should never judge someone by how well they fit your preconceived notions. If you don’t get that… then it doesn’t matter how many times you have read the books. You didn’t learn anything from them.”

I think it’s great that Riordan has decided to speak up about the unnecessary vitriol being thrown at this young lady, but I also think it’s frustrating to see the backlash at all. This isn’t the first time people have gotten angry about a Black actor playing an originally white role. And it’s disheartening to see it keep happening. When will we ever learn to treat each other with more respect?

Lastly, in the world of sports, there’s been extra discussion this week about the NCAA’s NIL policy. NIL stands for “name, image, and likeness” which is what student athletes are now able to make money off of since the policy was enacted last year, instead of just letting the schools rake in all the funds.

It sounds potentially nice in theory, but in practice, it’s been kind of a mess. For the past ten months, everyone’s been operating under an interim policy without a lot of regulation, meaning that the NIL deals often act as incentives in recruiting. The NCAA finally enacted a policy earlier this week to keep boosters and “collectives” out of the process in an attempt to rectify the situation.

But is it too late to make much of a difference? It’s disappointing (and somewhat baffling) to see that the NCAA started allowing NIL deals without firm guidelines in place at the beginning. Anytime money is involved – and especially with young, college-aged students who have no experience with business negotiations – there should be some regulations in place to make sure no one’s taking advantage of anyone else.

What a mess that could have been avoided with some extra planning ahead of time.

Actually, it sounds like there are plenty of messes in the world that could have been avoided if people did more to try.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.