TANGIER ISLAND, Va. (WAVY) — James “Ooker” Eskridge had just finished crabbing Monday afternoon when he got a call from a woman who said she was from the president’s office. Moments later, President Donald Trump introduced himself to Eskridge saying, “You got one heck of an island there.”
Trump had just watched a CNN report on the island last week. Eskridge told CNN he loved Trump as much as a family member, and that led Trump to call Eskridge. So what did both men discuss?
“Just common sense stuff.”
Tangier is sinking from erosion and sea level rise. Scientists predict it may have to be abandoned in 25 years. WAVY’s Tom Schaad met with Mayor Eskridge and residents of Tangier Island last year, and they’re hoping to save a vanishing piece of American culture with a unique dialect that many believe goes back to 17th century England.
Eskridge said Trump told him not to worry about sea level rise, saying the island has been there for hundreds of years and will be around for hundreds more.
Tangier is losing about 16 feet of shore line a year, and Eskridge said work is scheduled to begin in late fall on a jetty to shore up the western side of the island. Eskridge said the islanders main concern is constant erosion, and the Army Corps of Engineers is still studying a more permanent fix to keep Tangier Island from washing away. He welcomes a meeting with Trump.
“He invited me to D.C., and said, ‘Maybe I can get there sometime.'”
If he did come to Tangier Island, the president would be greeted by plenty of supporters. About 87 percent of residents who cast ballots in November voted for Trump. The island’s population is about 450.
Pruitt-Parks wants to purchase 550 copies of “Pieces of Tangier,” a 2014 documentary produced by Jenny Roberts as her master’s thesis. She says CNN “twisted the story,” while Roberts’ documentary accurately details the island’s erosion problem.
Pruitt-Parks reportedly plans to send the copies to the 535 members of Congress and other federal officials, including Trump. She has raised $1,895 of her $3,200 goal.