One U.S. island people lived on disappeared right into the ocean. Another one is on its way.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

In 2010, the last remaining house on this Maryland barrier island toppled into the Atlantic Ocean.

A final glimpse before the ocean swallowed up the last remaining vestige of Holland Island. Image by Baldeaglebluff/Flickr.


Holland Island, once located in the Chesapeake Bay, had known this was coming. Rising tides and wind forced the island's residents, once numbering up to 360, to seek drier ground on Maryland's mainland between 1914 and 1922. The house seen in the picture no longer remains in place. It's been enveloped into the surrounding waters, dismantled by a storm in October 2010.

A similar story is in progress with nearby Smith Island right now.

It's not far from where Holland Island once existed, and it's the last remaining inhabited offshore island (inaccessible by car) in Maryland's waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

A report from 2008 forecasts an identical fate — that by the year 2100, the island will be "almost completely under water as the Bay's average level goes up nearly one-foot."

A once-grand home on Smith Island now seems to be waiting for time and the elements to take it. Image by Lee Cannon/Flickr.

That's why the state is trying to buy people out of their land and relocate them to the mainland.

Only a small fraction of Smith Island residents accepted the offer, though. Many of the 276 who remain seem to believe the rising tide predictions are horse-hooey. From a Newsweek interview with resident Tim Marshall:

"'The whole sea-level rise — it's BS,' he says, talking loudly over the boat's motor. 'I've lived here my whole life and haven't seen a difference.'"

But glacial melting is a bona fide fact that says otherwise.

Experts illustrate this expected rise with an image of nearby Deal Island (connected to Maryland's mainland by a bridge):

The red line depicts the approximate level of flooding if a Category 2 hurricane were to hit in the year 2100 (factoring in rising sea level plus the size of waves). Photo via "Rising Sea Level Guidance"/Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Here's the thing: Global warming isn't coming just for these unfortunate residents. They're just on the front end of the timeline. From the Natural Resources Defense Council:

"Scientists at the U.S. Center for Atmospheric Research predict that if the current rate of global warming continues, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer by 2040."

If the ice caps continue melting at such an increased pace, it could mean the sea levels rising by 10 inches to 23 inches everywhere by the year 2100 (reminder — that's only 85ish years from now). The Gulf Coast, the state of Florida, and the whole Atlantic seaboard would be gone.

What prompts residents to hold fast to these islands in spite of the dire writing on the wall?

The small-town way of life, the remote and peaceful surroundings minimally touched by the modernization happening in the rest of the world, and generations of family ties are all some of the reasons residents might be holding on so tight. It must come down to love, right? Love of their lifestyle and love for the legacy of such a special place.

Smith Island is a 45-minute boat ride from Maryland's mainland shore. Image by Lee Cannon/Wikimedia Commons.

But as Don Henley and Patti Smyth once sang: Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Love won't stop the sea level from rising. Love won't stop time from ravaging Smith Island just the way Holland Island was forced to succumb to the reality of global warming. So residents need to hear the facts, but environmentalists and government folks also need to hear the community perspective, including our calls for them to take action before local situations get this bad. Eventually everyone will leave the island — that's not optional, it's GOING to happen — but in the meantime, an open conversation could be the best way to help get people engaged and planning for their futures.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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