Tangier is Tapped Out

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By Linda Cicoira — Surrounded by water but not a drop to drink. That was life this week on Tangier Island after the water tower was drained when a new water line burst last Sunday night.

“Of all things, I never thought we’d have a problem for lack of water,” Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge said Thursday of his home in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. “We were able to get a trickle so water lines wouldn’t freeze but some did” and there was “no pressure to use fire hydrants. That’s a major concern.”

VDOT was replacing two bridges on the island of about 400 people. The existing water line had to be moved so it was replaced with a new line. When the freeze came on Jan. 20, there was a break. The lack of flowing water then caused lines to some homes to burst.

There was no water Monday, Eskridge said. Town workers went to the mainland were helped to load and transport pallets of water.

Residents are managing by using creek water to flush toilets. They are heating drinking water to take what is known as bird baths. “We’re trying to maintain ourselves best we can in the situation.” Businesses are unable to operate, the mayor said.