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Just a 100 miles from the White House, Tangier Island is disappearing into the sea

Just a 100 miles from the White House, Tangier Island is disappearing into the sea
Just a 100 miles from the White House, Tangier Island is disappearing into the sea

Yahoo News Photo StaffJune 2, 2017

On Virginia’s Tangier Island, about 100 miles and a ferry ride from Washington, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are edging dangerously close to William Eskridge’s house.

Eskridge’s family has lived here for the last 200 years. But perhaps not for much longer. The island is under threat from rapid erosion that is being accelerated by rising water scientists believe to be caused by climate change.

At least a hundred feet of land have recently eroded, the fisherman says.

“And it just seems like it’s getting worse every year. I’m kind of fearful what it’s going to be down the road.”

Tangier Island is wedged between the eastern shore of Maryland and the Virginia coast.

Now measuring just 1.2 square miles, it has lost two-thirds of its landmass since 1850. If nothing is done to stop the erosion, it may disappear completely in the next 40 years.

The 450 or so inhabitants here — most of whose families have lived here for several generations — are keen to save their island, classified in the National Register of Historic Places.

Carol Pruitt Moore, who belongs to one of the island’s old fishing families, remembers going to the beach as a child. Back then, the walk would take an hour. Now it takes only 10 minutes.

“Not to save Tangier,” she says, would be “a tragedy.”

Nevertheless, many residents support the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who on Thursday announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

The Republican billionaire, who has argued that environmental regulations are damaging for the US economy, won 87 percent of the vote in Tangier, where many don’t believe the evidence that climate change is man-made.

“It has nothing to do with sea-level rise,” a retired teacher who gave his name as Bruce says about the island’s woes.

“I’m sure it will impact us in time, but we’re talking about short-term erosion, which has been going on for decades.” – (Eleonore Sens/AFP)

Photographs by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
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