Tangier Island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, about an hour’s boat ride from the Virginia mainland, rises only a few feet above the waterline and has been slowly eroded by the sea since it was first colonized in the 1600s. Now its 500 remaining residents are desperate for federal support because it is on the verge of disappearing.
But when they asked for support from Donald Trump to help them build a wall – a sea wall, this time, to hold back the eroding waves – it prompted a barrage of hate from outsiders. Their crime, apparently, was to blame the island’s plight on natural erosion and not rising sea levels caused by man-made climate change.
The president’s call triggered other calls to the island – but these were different. Some condemned the people here for seemingly agreeing with the president’s controversial view of climate change. He has called it a hoax.
One business received a message that said, “You voted for Donald f***** Trump haha oh god I hope your whole f***** island sinks.”
“It was disheartening and it was upsetting,” said Laurie Thomas. She works for the town and said one man called to say that she and the people on the island deserved to die.
Their other crime was to be the kind of independent, hard-working, honest, all-American types – Tangier Island harvests more of the bay’s prized blue crabs, 13 percent, than any other town in Virginia – who inevitably voted for Donald Trump.
Eighty-seven percent of Tangier Island’s residents voted for the Donald. He noticed and in June spoke to the mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge who drew the president’s attention to the island’s plight.
“We need help from the erosion. If it was just sea level rise that we were worried about, we would be in good shape,” Eskridge said.
Help looks like a rock wall. One was built on the island’s western side in the 1980s and the erosion there stopped. Now, they say their only hope is a wall around the entire island—costing an estimated $20 to $30 million, which they don’t have.
They’d like Congress to approve the money and Mayor Eskridge thinks President Trump could help cut through all the red tape.
“He’s gonna cut back on the time it takes to do studies for these projects — we don’t have that time to play with,” Eskridge said.
He thinks if Mr. Trump told Congress he wanted to save the island, it would be saved.
Oh – and the islanders are, of course, right to blame erosion and not “climate change” for their island’s plight.