Tide floods airport roads

A child peers out of his vehicle at the lagoon salt water flooding onto the main road by the airport reservoirs during Monday’s high tide. Photo: Eve Burns.

EVE BURNS

Have you ever had to drive through a flooded road to get home? On Monday and Tuesday, people from the west side of Majuro had to navigate waves crashing across airport lagoon seawalls and barriers, and water and every kind of debris flooding onto the roads from the reservoir to the Peace Park.

During this week’s January high tide, the drive home to Laura that used to be a breeze was a battle at the airport area.

The first two days of this week, I’ve had to wait in a long traffic lines, watching waves furiously smash against the shores forcing lagoon water onto the road. Some of the big boulders used as a seawall were knocked onto the road causing more traffic congestion.

The US Geological Survey, in a study of Roi-Namur Island at Kwajalein in 2018, said it is possible that by 2035 some of the Marshall Islands will be uninhabitable due to rising sea levels and high tide inundations. Others will no longer have drinking water because their aquifers will be contaminated with saltwater and as a result we will be forced to migrate.

It’s safe to say, although many of us migrate due to climate change, health, education and employment, we still want our homeland above water.

These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I sat stuck in traffic as a high tide propelled by wind flooded the road around our vehicle.

Bulldozers were on station trying to clear the road, police officers were on hand running up and down with the traffic to explain the situation. They were soaking wet from the rain and sea water and trying not get blown away by the wind.

While some were in the comfort of our homes, safe and dry, these men were out there working in an unsafe environment, patching up and filling areas that were being forcefully blasted by incoming waves. The bulldozers dumped additional sand along the lagoon side of the airport road as a temporary barrier. It’s not a long time solution, but it did slow the flooding a little.

The tide level Wednesday was also forecast at above five feet, similar to Monday and Tuesday levels. If day two was bad enough to have us Laura girls screaming in surprise due to sudden waves coming over the lagoon seawalls and flooding around our vehicle, I really don’t look forward for day three.

All those meetings and workshops to raise awareness did not prepare us for the results of climate change.

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