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Tangier Residents Pray for a Miracle to Save their Tiny Island

Tangier Residents Pray for a Miracle to Save their Tiny Island Read Transcript

NARRATOR: As a new day dawns over Tangier Island,

it's beauty and charm are undeniable.

Quaint village of just 450 people

where everyone knows everyone.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

NARRATOR: The two main industries

involve fishing or tourism.

The majority attend one of two churches

and leans politically to the right.

As for the island, it's smack in the middle of the Chesapeake

Bay, where dangerous erosion and rising water

put its very future in jeopardy.

Scientists say Tangier is losing about 9 acres a year.

It's no surprise, though, to the people who live here,

who are literally watching their island wash away.

NARRATOR: Mayor James Eskridge is leading the fight

to save Tangier.

He has worked these waters harvesting

crabs his whole life, and showed us

the many places where the water has overtaken the land.

You say this island over here to our left

with the cross on it?

OK, that was all connected.

That was all peninsula, it actually

ran here to the number six marker, like on the other side.

This was all-- this was all land across here.

And you can see how it's just chewing it up,

it's just disappearing.

NARRATOR: Jared Parks walked us along one of several areas

where he has prayed, asking God to save the island.

This was wooded, there were trees here,

and like the hunting lodge and all that kind of stuff.

NARRATOR: Marine biologist David Schulte

has published the most authoritative environmental

study on Tangier to date.

He says the island has lost 2/3 of its land since 1850.

And in 20 to 50 years, it could become unlivable.

The waters have gotten high enough to the point

where basically their yards are now marsh.

They're getting a lot of flooding in their homes.

What really frustrates Schulte are scenes like this,

a cemetery on an area known as the Uppards

that has literally washed away.

I don't like that.

I'm kind of offended by it.

I think that we, as a people, we can't

let that happen to each other.

NARRATOR: But as Schulte points out,

we are, because Congress has not made Tangier a priority.

2002 was my first visit.

Since that time, I've actually seen nothing get actually built

out there.

NARRATOR: Schulte has a $30 million

plan that would position seawalls

around the entire island.

He's got the full support of the islanders, who

point to the success of the one small jetty

that currently protects Tangier.

We were losing in 25 to 30 feet of shoreline a year

right here.

And they completed that in 1989 and since then,

we haven't lost one inch of shoreline.

So it works.

NARRATOR: Another is set for construction next year.

Councilwoman Anna Pruitt-Parks says it has been in the works

for more than 20 years.

The staff just keeps getting delayed and delayed,

and that's just a long process.

NARRATOR: With time running out, the island

is turning to God like never before.

Pruitt-Parks' grandmother received a prophetic word

about Tangier's first jetty, and now Jared Parks

has shared with the island that he

believes God told him the Chesapeake Bay will not

claim Tangier.

His word to me, in fact, was that he

would cause land to come back.

Now you know, a lot of people look at me and say,

how is land going to come back?

I mean, get real.

But I always tell people, you know, I didn't say it,

God said it.

NARRATOR: Pastor John Flood says he

believes God is trying to teach people here to trust in him.

It's been a long time on our terms,

that we have seen any action.

But in God's time, it's simply a blink of the eye.

NARRATOR: Islanders are also encouraged

by this new development, a phone call from President Trump

to the mayor.

It came after a cable news interview

in which Eskridge said he loved the President like a family


Now the mayor is planning a trip to the White House,

which Schulte says, could make a big .


I think if he would personally advocate for something,

I would think that Congress would take it up and put it

in the budget.

NARRATOR: Either way, says Schulte,

taxpayers are on the hook.

If the islanders need to evacuate,

it could cost $100 million or more

to relocate them and shut down infrastructure.

For now, Tangier is waiting, praying, and believing.

DAVID SCHULTE: I still have people that will call me

and say, I was thinking about when you spoke in church that

time, and I still believe what you said,

that the Lord is going to do something

for y'all and everything.

And you know, sometimes, God uses the waiting to teach us.

NARRATOR: Reporting on Tangier Island,

Heather's Sells, CBN News.

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