Tangier Island Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge received a call from Donald Trump. Trump said "not to worry" about sea level rise.
On June 12, the Mayor of Tangier Island, Virginia received a phone call from the President. James "Ooker" Eskridge, Tangier Island Mayor, received the call around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Apparently, the President made the call after a staffer brought a CNN report
on Tangier Island to the his attention.
Eskridge first received a call from Tangier Oyster Co. The Virginia business had been contacted by the president's office, looking for the mayor's home telephone number. Tangier Island told Delmarva Now
"So I came in from crabbing and they said I got a call — I said, 'That's not real.' Anyway, I hung around. I left for a short time to go to my crab house, and then came back and I got this call and the lady says, 'I'm with the president's office. The president would like to know if he could speak to you. I said, 'Yes, he sure can,'"
To start off the phone call, Trump introduced himself and told the Tangier Island Mayor, "You've got one heck of an island there."
The island is, in fact, quite remarkable. For centuries it served as a retreat for the indigenous Pocomoke tribe, and in the early 1600s it was re-discovered by European explorer John Smith. The island has since been inhabited by settlers from South West England and by their descendants, creating a unique linguistic phenomenon
that has fascinated researchers for some time.
Now, the centuries long history is disappearing into the Chesapeake Bay waters at a rate of 16 feet every year, and Tangier isn't the first island in the bay to face this fate.
CNN created the following info-graphic to show just how much the island has shrunken in the past 150 years.
A Sad Irony for Tangier's Residents
Despite the fact that Donald Trump believes CNN
is a "terrible organization" and "fake news," CNN's article on Tangier Island apparently caught his attention; 87% of the Island's 450 residents voted for him, and in an interview with CNN Eskridge made a plea to Trump, saying "if you see this, whatever you can do, we welcome any help you can give us."
Eskridge told the Trump that Tangier Island is
"a huge supporter of Donald Trump... This is a Trump island; we really love you down here... I said, 'The stuff you are doing is just common-sense stuff.' I said, 'I believe you're for the working man — and you want people to get back to work — you're for the military, and Israel and religious liberties — It's all the stuff that we value.' I said, 'I believe you came along for such a time as this.' "
The residents apparently don't care about Trump's controversial stances on climate change, nor do they care that he has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement. When CNN reported Kimberly Berryman asked residents what they thought about climate change, she said residents agreed they don't care whats causing it, but that they desperately want people to realize whats happening to their home island of Tangier. Resident Bruce Clark Gordy said "I agree with the science behind sea-level rise and global warming but its all irrelevant to us right now. We're worried about washing away."
Trump's phone call wasn't one that provided Tangier's residents with a tangible solution. Eskridge said "[Trump] said not to worry about sea-level rise... He said, 'Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.' "
While the residents of Tangier have expressed that they want real world solutions, they have instead received Donald Trump's belief. Despite the fact that resident's seem reassured by the President's phone call, only time will tell if Donald Trump's belief alone can stop the island from disappearing into the bay waters.