Tide and Time: Sea Level Rise on North Carolina's Outer Banks
by Justin Cook

project STATEMENT

Tide and Time documents the effects of climate change and erosion on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It focuses on a historic cemetery on Hatteras Island that is slowly washing into the Pamlico Sound, the locals with ancestors buried in this tiny plot of land, and the eroding marsh ecosystem around it.

The Outer Banks are a chain of narrow, ever-shifting barrier islands built and nourished by storm surge that carries sand across the islands during hurricanes. They are meant to migrate west toward North Carolina’s mainland, but this is prevented by dunes built to save beach houses and the only highway that threads the islands. More intense storms fueled by climate change are eroding the Outer Banks, and global sea level rise threatens to inundate them completely.

Jean Hooper, 85, was born on Hatteras Island and has watched the sea steadily reshape and reclaim the only home she’s ever known. The cemetery is sacred to her, and she still wants to be buried there beside her grandparents even if the sea eventually takes her bones. This work tells a story about ancestral connection to home, and the slow creep of climate change in the lives of ordinary people.

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