NPCs are idiots. They built this really nice village, then apparently fled, despite having more than enough torches to keep away hostile mobs. Except in the biggest house which had one torch, not enough to prevent a creeper spawning inside. And what I suspect was their watchtower or church, or both (though it lacks bells), which also had insufficient lighting on the upper levels.
This isn't the full stupidity. There is also the location. I haven't fully explored it, but on at least two sides of it, there are caverns. This means that the sand that is the basis of the desert can, if disturbed, collapse, into a cave that players need to dig out of. I'm actually understating it. On one side it's a small cave, apparently too narrow for hostiles to spawn inside. On the opposite side, there is a larger cave system, mostly unexplored by me, which extends an indeterminate distance under the town. What I have found suggests that it goes very far in several directions. The sounds I hear under the sand in other areas suggest that the cave system may go entirely under the town, possibly at a very shallow depth.
The town is built on pillars of sand.
I'm currently leveling it all out, to get flat roads, though is a major slope on one side and so I have to let it be a bit higher. Stage two is going to be digging out the bottom of the town and adding a foundation of stone, layered again with sand and gravel. This is to ensure that I don't cause a major cave in while trying to explore the caves. Instead I'd cause the major cave-in while digging at the surface, which I think might be better.
Future stages will call for the repair of a farm plot that fell victim to a creeper attack and the dynamiting of some nearby hills that overlook the wall. I plan to fill the resulting irregular holes with water. The ocean isn't far away and I have a bit of iron for buckets.
In the meantime, while I work up the will for a major project like digging up the entire town, I built another small house for storage and added a basement to the biggest one, with lots of windows so it doesn't feel closed-in.
As part of the beautification effort, I will, someday, clear out the valley being created by my excavations, smoothing out the bumps and opening it to the sun. Then I will line it with dirt, drop some water in, and plant trees. It will be a valley of life next to my strangely deserted town.