Friday, February 20, 2015

Maryland Island Cut Off by Icy Chesapeake

Maryland refuses to assist iced-in Tangier Island
Tangier Island is iced in and the state of Maryland apparently isn't of a mind to assist when the federal government can't.

Accomack County Administrator Steve Miner reported to the Board of Supervisors on the situation, resulting from days of below-freezing temperatures.

A Coast Guard cutter was supposed to have gone to break the ice and bring supplies to the island community, located about 12 miles from the mainland in the Chesapeake Bay.

But the boat motor broke down, "so another one is going to have to be brought from Baltimore," Miner said. Apparently it also had a problem, delaying the operation.

"Now they're on their way" and should have arrived by Wednesday night, Miner said.
Miner spoke earlier in the day with Tangier Town Manager Renee Tyler. "It's all under control. ... As far as I know, there have not been many problems," he said.

The Board of Supervisors approved, 8-0, a motion by Supervisor Wanda Thornton, seconded by Robert Crockett, to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources protesting the department's decision not to allow one of its boats to conduct the operation in place of the disabled Coast Guard vessel.

"I'm a little bit surprised DNR would not send a boat," Crockett said. "This was an emergency situation," Thornton said.

"It's very odd — the boat's sitting right over there in Crisfield," Miner said, adding, "It certainly bears looking into."
Tangier Island is in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay, so it's not really Maryland's business to keep the water roads open. But the islanders are closely tied to Crissfield, MD for commerce, so it would seem a neighborly thing to do.

It strikes me as odd that the State of Maryland isn't trying a little harder to bring relief to the island that has some 700 people on it. If a section of Baltimore, or heaven forfend, Montgomery County with that many people was cut off by from the rest of the state by a road collapse or flood, I suspect they would have a greater sense of urgency.

However, my intuition would also suggest that the denizens of Tangier Island are also more likely to be self-reliant than the Baltimorons and Monkey County folk.

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