As the sun set, we strolled past graves of prior generations, and the only combined K-12 school in the state of Virginia. One of the few island structures built for the harsh realities to come, the school rests on thick wooden piles 8 feet off the ground. Across from the playground, the water tower was festooned with the two things these islanders hold most dear: the cross and the crab. We walked briskly along the western ridge near the airstrip, swatting flies as we went.
The wall, if approved, will not solve the problem. It will only buy time for the island, perhaps another century. Sooner or later, the rising sea will force remaining residents to make an orderly retreat to the mainland and move on with their lives, something that growing numbers of the young adults are already doing.