Tangier Islanders Still Surrounded by up to 10 Inches of Ice

Days after air temperatures rose above freezing, the ice that trapped Tangier Island residents is still a wicked barrier, barring residents from access to essential supplies on the mainland.

On Thursday, the crew of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ ice breaker, the 100-foot J. Millard Tawes, answered Virginia’s call for help to reach the island, which was still surrounded by up to ten inches of ice.

Captained by Eddie Somers, the ice breaker helped deliver food, fuel, mail and medications, shoving off from Crisfield. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency coordinated the response to the aid request on Thursday morning. Maryland DNR says when they arrived in Tangier, a group of two dozen residents met them at the dock to help unload.

Captain Somers says he can’t remember seeing ice this thick since the 1970s.

 Photo: Army National Guard/ Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti
Photo: Army National Guard/ Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti

Tangier has seen emergency support from other agencies since the late December-early January freeze began, including ice breaking missions by the U.S. Coast Guard and a delivery of emergency supplies by Virginia National Guard helicopter.

On January 6, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters picked up food, mail, and medicine in Crisfield, then flew to icebound Tangier, with six soldiers from Sandston making two runs of emergency supplies.