TANGIER — The mayor of the tiny Chesapeake Bay island community of Tangier says President Donald Trump called him after seeing a news report about the threat the Virginia village faces from sea-level rise.
Trump — who was overwhelmingly backed by Tangier residents in November — called Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge after CNN reported on the island last week, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md.
“It was unreal,” said Eskridge, who spoke with the president Monday afternoon.
According to the mayor, Trump introduced himself and told Eskridge: “You’ve got one heck of an island there.”
Most of low-lying Tangier, with a population of about 450, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of the isolation, many residents have retained the linguistic traces of the island’s primarily English settlers who first arrived in the 17th century.
The island is also sinking from erosion and rising sea levels, and scientists predict that residents may have to abandon it within 25 to 50 years.
But Eskridge said Trump reassured him.
“He said not to worry about sea-level rise,” Eskridge said. “He said, ‘Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”
About 87 percent of Tangier residents who cast ballots in November voted for Trump, and Eskridge said during the CNN interview that he loved Trump like a family member.
“He said, ‘I’ve just got to talk to that guy,’” Eskridge said.