Tangier Island

Photo via Aaron Harrington/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Trump tells Virginia mayor not to worry about his shrinking island

The proposed solution? Build a wall.


Kris Seavers

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 14, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 3:07 am CDT

President Donald Trump called the mayor of a shrinking island and told him not to worry about sea-level rise.

The Washington Post reported today that James “Ooker” Eskridge, the mayor of Tangier Island, Virginia, received the call from Trump while he was crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay.

Eskridge and the other 450 residents of Tangier are becoming increasingly concerned about their island, which loses 15 feet of coastline each year and now sits at 1.3 square miles. The Army Corps of Engineers cites rising sea levels and coastal erosion as the root cause.

CNN aired a story last week about the “disappearing” Tangier Island and its concerned citizens, many of whom are descendants of 17th century settlers.

“Donald Trump, if you see this, whatever you can do, we welcome any help you can give us,” Eskridge said in the CNN piece.

Trump heard about the story and decided to give Eskridge a call. Trump first thanked Eskridge and Tangier Island constituents—87 percent of them voted for Trump, according to the Post. Then the mayor and president discussed the disappearing island.

“He said we shouldn’t worry about rising sea levels,” Eskridge told the Post. “He said that ‘your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”

Eskridge agrees with Trump.

“Like the president, I’m not concerned about sea level rise,” he said. “I’m on the water daily, and I just don’t see it.”

Eskridge is more concerned “about the erosion caused by the Chesapeake’s water pounding on the island’s shores,” according to the Post.

The proposed solution? Build a wall. The Army Corps of Engineers will begin work on a jetty on the channel of the island, but Eskridge said they need a jetty—or a seawall—around the entire island. He said Trump is on board with this.

“He’s for cutting regulations and the time it takes to study a project,” Eskridge said. “Of course you need the studies, but we’ve been studied to death.”

Trump is pro-wall. Last year, Trump tried to build a sea wall to protect one of his golf courses in Ireland, which despite his outspoken disbelief in climate change, he justified with “global warming and its effects.” The wall ended up not being built, because of snails.

But the Trump administration has not necessarily been pro-Chesapeake Bay. The Post also reported that Trump’s proposed budget included cutting funds to a program that helps control pollution and restore the bay’s ecosystem.

In a compromise on the budget, Congress restored the $73 million intended for the program, at least until the fiscal year runs out in September.

Meanwhile, on Tangier Island, the race against the clock—and shrinkage—is on.

“We’re running out of land to give up,” Eskridge said.

H/T Washington Post

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*First Published: Jun 14, 2017, 1:10 pm CDT