If Your House Was Falling Off a Cliff, Would You Leave?
On a stormy day in the spring of 2021, the sea defenses on the beach below Lucy Ansbro’s cliff-top home in Thorpeness, England, washed away. Then, the end of her garden collapsed into the North Sea.
As she watched the plants tumble over the edge, she feared that her house in this coastal village 110 miles northeast of London would be next.
“We lost three and a half meters of land,” said Ms. Ansbro, a 54-year-old television producer, sitting in her kitchen on a recent morning. “Every time I went out, I didn’t know if the house would still be here when I came back.”
Coastal erosion is a natural process as waves pound beaches around the globe, but along this stretch of England’s eastern coastline, stronger storms and bigger waves are striking fear in local residents like never before.
Thousands of homes here are threatened by the sea, and the government agencies tasked with defending them are straining to keep pace. The Committee on Climate Change, an independent body that advises Britain’s Environment Agency, has reported that 8,900 residential properties — 1,200 of…