Ocean flooding hits RMI

A drone shot of the Delap home that is desperately in need of a seawall.
Photo: Carl Montgomery.

HILARY HOSIA

There is a home behind Delap Elementary School that suffers a fate three times worse than most during ocean inundations in Majuro.

The home is sandwiched between a local-government-funded seawall to its left and a riprap structure made by the national government on its right. This leaves a gap through which waves, energized by finding a pathway to shore, have continuously pummeled the family’s home during high tide periods.

A concrete foundation facing the ocean has broken into pieces throughout the years — its outside bathroom destroyed beyond repair.

To date, the family has yet to be assisted by either the local or national government despite multiple requests to assist with fortifying their home. This is a one of those cases where significant last name and lineage comes in play.

“We don’t want to lose our home,” the family told the Journal three inundations ago.

Instead of migrating with relatives to the US, the father of the house had retrofitted the door facing the oceanside with a metal door. Three inundations ago, seawater and debris flooded the ocean-side, washing through the house and out the front door facing DES.

“I grew up in this home before meeting my husband,” the mother of the house said. “We plan to remain here to be able to pass down our home to our children,” she said.

In further inundation news from this past weekend, there was no warning from government authorities about possible flooding at high tide periods.

Schools on Jabor, Jaluit  were closed Monday following high tide surges that flooded much of the island Sunday evening.

Jaluit High School’s campus was repeatedly inundated by ocean waves Sunday and Monday this week. Both the runway and other parts of the village on Jabor were also flooded. The airport is now temporarily closed.

The community conducted a major cleanup as both the elementary and high school were flooded. Jabor hosts Jaluit High School, a school that currently has 464 students attending, mostly boarders from other islands and atolls.

Multiple people on Jaluit said they were unaware of the incoming high tide waves Sunday and Monday. So the entire community participated in a major clean up Monday, not realizing more waves would strike the islands during the high tide later that day, tossing debris, rocks and coral onto the Jabor — which had to be cleaned up a second time.

The second series of waves at a the late afternoon high tide Monday, according to the students, engulfed the entire school field. “This is the first time for the field to be flooded,” a former alumni of the school told the Journal.

Mark Canney, a teacher and principal at Jaluit High School in the 1990s, commented on a video of flooding at Jaluit last Sunday posted by Charles Lomae on Facebook. Canney said during his time at the school, he never saw ocean flooding. “I spent seven years on this island and never, never experienced an inundation like this. Climate change is real and a real danger to atoll life.”

As a precaution, decisions were made to turn off the power plant generator that provides electricity to the community.

Social media posts from several users showed people sitting on top of tables and tall surfaces as their homes had water several feet high. Crops and underground water wells were also covered with seawater.

Meanwhile on Ebeye, similar posts on Sunday showed people walking through flooded roads.

Kili Island, which was flooded a month ago during the peak high tide period, also experienced flooding Sunday, as its airport runway was turned into a salt water lake.

In Majuro, inundations occurred around the atoll, including along the airport causeway, by Peace Park and in other low-lying locations in Ajeltake where waves tossed rocks, coral, sand, garbage and other debris onto land. There was some flooding in the Delap ocean side.

Islands that reported ocean flooding from Sunday’s high tide included Majuro, Jaluit, Kili, Ebeye, Likiep and Mili.

The government did issue small craft warnings the week prior but there were no warnings issued about possible inundation despite the Marshall Islands National Weather Service issuing inundation warnings beginning the middle of last week.

The tide chart showed that Sunday evening was the highest tide of the month at 5.61 inches. Similar, but slightly lower high tides were seen Monday and Tuesday late afternoons.

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