As Tangier residents wait patiently for the final approval of the jetty and seawall project to save the Island from sinking, the tourist season is certainly energetic. There are only two ways to travel to Tangier, one by Ferry and the other by private boat or plane.
There are a variety of activities to do while visiting the Island if it’s just a two-hour visit by Ferry or a weekend stay at several of the Bed & Breakfast Inns. There are Seafood Restaurants with the catch of the day right out of the Chesapeake Bay and homemade meals topped off with fresh desserts.
Rent a golf cart or bicycle from Four Brothers Crab House & Ice Cream Deck and explore the island while getting lost in history or take a group tour with one of the local tour guides. Ride a Kayak or Canoe to explore the Island’s channel; it’s free to use for all exploring visitors.
There is still time to visit this historic Island that sits in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay before the Tourist Season ends.
The Chesapeake Breeze Tour boat enters the main channel of the island, and a voice comes over the loudspeaker. “Tangier Island is the soft crab capital of the world,” said Captain Thomas. He follows with a brief history of the island.
The Islanders are welcoming to every sea-faring stranger that arrives daily from ferries coming from the mainland.
Visitors can tour the 1.2-mile island by renting a bicycle or a golf cart from Four Brothers Crab house and Ice Cream Deck. The self-tour with a map in hand is the best way to get lost in history and have a first-hand view of the island.
The problem is that the entire island itself may soon be lost to history.
Located in Accomack County in the center of the Chesapeake Bay, Tangier Island is a stretch of land about 1.2-miles that is shrinking every year, slowly sinking into the Chesapeake Bay.
Tangier Island needs a seawall and jetties to combat the shore erosion that continually damages the main harbor and seafood processing area.
“The activities of man have led to the deterioration of the environment,” said Chris Davis of Ready Reef, Inc. “We have the knowledge of how to improve it we just have to have the will to do so.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the US has experienced an increase of flooding from 300% to 900% within a period of fifty years according to an article by Rising Challenge.
The tall blue painted water tower with “TANGIER ISLAND” written on it still stands on what used to be land but is now another victim of the rising sea levels with water surrounding its base.
Crossing the bridge on Wallace Road, a couple of abandoned small fishing boats lay half in the rising waters and the other half on what’s left of the land. It is sad and poetic, a reminder of the past that was once a thriving existence to the Islanders.
Hoisting Bridge located on Factory Road is another body of water that was once land. Boats are flipped over on their side or lying facedown in the marsh. As the Chesapeake Bay slowly swallows what was once a backyard for children to play in but the people adjust to the changes the Island brings.
The people of Tangier, led by Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge, have put their faith in the Trump Administration to cut through some of the federal government’s bureaucracy to start the building of the seawall before the island gives way to rising waters and erosion.
A man who goes only by “Spanky,” the friendly owner of Spanky’s Place ice cream shop, is happy to answer any questions concerning the future of the island. He attends every city council meeting to stay informed of any new developments on the impending seawall project.
“We need a complete wall and jetty with land build up just like the airport has,” said Sparky. “Every year we have lost more than one inch of land, and it is getting worse. With the hurricane season approaching, I do not know what is going to happen.
No one knows when construction for the seawall will begin.
According to the Project Study and proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, if nothing is done to correct the erosion, Tangier will have to be evacuated, and the residents will have no choice but to move to the mainland.
Erosion and rising waters are a major concern for the island, but with only 450 residents, the question is not only the allocation of money but also whether it will be cost-effective in the future. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Tangier Island only has 25 to 50 years left before the water completely covers the island if nothing is done to prevent it.
Many years ago The Army Corps of Engineers used a process called “dredging muck,” or spoils. This process was used to build up an area of marshland to buy the Island sometime before the land mass was entirely under water.
In 2012, a proclamation signed by then-Governor Bob McDonnell and Colonel Paul Olson of the Army Corps of Engineering to share in the cost of a study, design element and building of the seawall that the Island desperately needs. The Corps completed the study in 2016, but progress on the wall was delayed because of a lack of funds.
“Tangier Island Jetty is an extremely important project,” said Patrick Bloodgood, spokesperson for the Public Affairs Office, Army Corps of Engineering. “We are working with the state to complete the necessary package for the next phase of the design and implementation of the jetty.
“We would just like to have our seawall,” expressed Laurie Thomas, the Town Manager.
“The Army Corps made a minor adjustment to the study, and it had to go back to the Governor for approval. After Mayor Eskridge spoke with Senator Tim Kaine and Representative Scott Taylor the proposal is waiting for the Governor’s signature.”
The people of Tangier felt let down to what seemed to a broken promise by the government.
Traveling to the Recycling Plant it is clear to see the destruction that the rising sea levels have caused. The rising waters and the decay is evidence of land erosion to the partial water decks that still stand in the Bay. The wall of rocks that is placed as a barrier to stop the rising sea is almost under water.
Sea level rising is a threat to the Island and if nothing done to stop the erosion of the channel the future for the current generation will be forced to evacuate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has stated that this issue is a current threat and extinction is an actual problem.
The other side of the debate is whether Tangier Island should be saved from extinction because of the enormous price tag that it would create building the seawall.
A study for beach erosion and the effects of rising sea levels was conducted but found inconclusive according to Marine Geology. The soil from the beach was found not to be a reliable surface to test for a significant outcome.
“Tangier is savable, it is a thriving fishing waterman community,” said Mayor Eskridge. “We would like the state and the federal government to step up and do what they say they will do.”
“Mayor Eskridge works tirelessly to keep the people of this island safe,” said Laurie Thomas. “When the mayor is not in the office, he is out working on the sea at the Crab House.”
The majority of Tangier’s residents were born and raised on the island. Generations have occupied the tiny island and shared in its way of life. The Island has always been self-sustaining and some still speak with a distinct dialect dating back to the 1700’s. It is a mixture of a southern twang and an early English patois according to an article written by The National Geographic Society.
For some, the only outside contact they have is with the tourists that visit from June through October.
“I was born and raised on this island, and it is all that I know,” said Paulette Parks.
St Jude is more than a Children’s Hospital. It is a beacon of hope for an ailing child fighting cancer and a place of comfort for parents during an extremely difficult time.
Located in Memphis Tennessee, St Jude is a research hospital that treats pediatric cancers and other life-threatening diseases. The mission of the hospital is that no parent will ever receive a bill for medical services and housing. Focusing on the treatment and healing process of their child is the number one priority.
Every year St Jude sponsor events for the public to help raise money to continue to treat every child that walk thru their doors. No one wants to see a child go through this devastating illness.
Volunteers are in need to sign up for the Walk/Run that will be held in September around various cities in the US. Come out and bring the family for this worthy cause.
Much of Virginia’s coastal regions are in danger of erosion from rising sea levels that are a threat to Military Bases.
Norfolk is at the center of this debate of climate change in a city that has suffered an increasing amount of tidal flooding and storm surges. Rising sea levels are no longer just a city problem, but a global one. Coastal regions around the world will encounter sea level risings and flooding that will have a long-lasting effect on how we exist.
Neighborhoods in Norfolk are under constant threat of rising waters from rain and flooding with drainage retention issues.
The warming of the ocean contributes to the rising sea levels that will affect Virginia’s coastline with a thirty percent increase in flooding according to the Coastal Flood Projections Report.
East Coast communities can expect waters to climb as much as 11.5 feet – about 3.5 feet more than the global average– by 2100 (Reese 2017).
Virginia’s coastlines also have battles with Hurricanes, Nor’easters that contribute to flooding and erosion that have increased the rise in sea levels.
The Union of Concerned Scientist report have identified at least eighteen military installations along the east coast that is in immediate danger of severe land mass loss due to rising sea levels and flooding. Military ports are vital parts of our national security while preparedness will take a serious effort with Congress and with the Department of Defense.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene brought high tides, winds, and storm surges that were over 7.5 feet in the Sewell’s Point section of Norfolk. The Naval Bases sent their ships out to sea and the city officials ordered residents to evacuate. Irene’s impact was so forceful that it took month’s to restore power from downed power lines.
Residents of all coastal areas should stay updated on evacuation routes and always have a readiness plan in place as the hurricane season starts on June 1, 2018.
One of the top priorities of Jefferson Lab is the study of matter and the particles that form it. The particle accelerator used in this study called the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF). Physicist’s who study and research the interior nucleus properties of matter uses this particle accelerator for advanced research.
The Electron-Ion Collider is considered a miniature version of CERN in how it will help with global research and technology.
Jefferson Lab has built a valuable partnership with local schools K thru 12 and universities with undergraduates, graduates, and post-doctorate students to participate in educational programs and special events.
Mr. Keith Hardinghas worked in this field for over thirty years and employed with Jefferson Lab for six years. His military training and education with a background in welding, sheet metal, and CAB software has qualified him as a specialist in this field.
Mr. Harding’s work experience includes Associate Mechanical Engineer, Cad Laser Operator, Gamma Camera for detection used for medical diagnosis and CAD drawings to create models.
“I enjoy the work that I do and have worked hard to get where I am,” said Mr. Harding. “I just can’t imagine working anywhere else but Jefferson Lab.”
Mr. Harding’s prior military training as a Metal Worker was the driving force to continue his education and advancement in the field of Mechanical Design.
What makes Mr. Harding an expert in the field of a Senior Mechanical Designer are his years of military and civilian education. He adds to his education with countless years of experience in the development of prototypes, with a wealth of knowledge in CAD and AutoCAD 3D. He holds certifications in Solid Works Drawing, Laser Operations, and Tooling Software.
I have learned from Mr. Harding the mission and purpose of Jefferson Lab and that the city will host an Electron-Ion Collider to assist with our energy resources.
Searching for information has advanced more than ever with the use of various social media platforms. Regardless of the information desired, it is obtainable on the Internet. Whether it is technically or professionally there is a platform for it.
According to makeawebsitehub.com, currently, there are over sixty plus networking sites available for social media. Some of the media sites focus more on business while others are geared more for social conversations.
Social media networks have advanced globally because of the billions of people that now have access to post information making research readily available.
LinkedIn has become more than a professional networking site it, offers research data and opinion pieces on rising sea levels. Yale conducted a Climate Change Communication study with visualizations and data research on climate change that affects the ocean temperatures.
The Sun-Sentinel did an article on rising stormwater and the difficulties that some of the cities were having such as city drainage and the ability to properly remove the water surge.
Columbia University conducts research and scientific studies with a group of scientists from around the world to find ways to slow down or stop climate change. Saving the planet from rising sea levels have become a top priority. Twitter is a social media platform Columbia University uses to get information out to the public on the studies conducted.
NASA has assembled a team of sea-level scientist to restart an Internet platform to inform the public through news articles and twitter post regarding studies on rising sea levels around the world as sort of a watch group.
The National Ocean Service uses Facebook and Twitter to keep the public informed on any new studies conducted on climate change and changes to the oceans floor core temperatures and predictions with storm surges.
Interesting Engineering posted an article on research conducted by the US Military concludes that salt water is rising rapidly and could overtake fresh water that would leave islands uninhabitable by the year 2030.
Social media platforms have evolved into various degrees of interaction on a global stage where a wealth of information is available.
According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Tangier Island has lost sixty-six percent of landmass since 1850 and only sits four feet above sea level due to constant erosion and climate change.
The infographic below shows other factual data of the Island from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
On November 21, 2012, then Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell traveled to Tangier Island to speak to the community concerning the approval to study, design, and construct the seawall to protect the island. The project would cost around $4.2 million but the residents had hope that finally building the seawall will save the Island.
The outlook for the residents of this tiny island is dismal unless the government decides to save its existence and approve the plan. The Army Corps completed the study and published the report in 2016 to find the best way to preserve some of the island’s coastline. A stone jetty was proposed to place in the island’s harbor or navigation channel to help preserve and not disturb the fishing and crabbing that the fisherman depends on to make a living.
The Community of four hundred and fifty residents that are left on Tangier Island is unsure of the future and continue to seek answers from the government on the status of the project that was approved in 2012.
Many of the residents have expressed that they will never leave because their heritage and culture is Tangier Island.
No further update is available at this time on the project’s progress.
Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are valuable sources of information, updates, and current discussions on Tangier Island.
Twitter is a source for personal stories and adventures of those who have visited the island in the past. Their experience is a valuable resource to use when planning a trip to Tangier in the near future.
Tangier Island has a Facebook page that gives a list of upcoming events opened to the public and highlights places to visit and stay while on the island.
Tumblr is a social media source that offers open discussions on the island’s future and personal experiences from those who once residents or still have relatives that live there.