July 16, 2023
“After the storm, you get a rainbow”
MDS dedicated three new homes in Crisfield, Maryland on April 12, boosting flood recovery in the city located on the Tangier Sound, an an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Crisfield, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, has suffered from repeat flooding since then—and many people continued to live in badly damaged, mold-infested homes, according to Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor.
“I was born and raised here,” explained Taylor. “Normally people just live in these conditions—we can’t afford better.”
Linda Byrd was one of them. As she spoke at her home dedication, she described her former flood-damaged house. “Water had taken everything in the kitchen and the bathroom, and the house had black mold everywhere,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was that bad until they started tearing the house down.”
Byrd’s new home has some special touches. A group of MDS volunteers from Puerto Rico, grateful for MDS’s help during Hurricane Maria, helped frame the structure as a way of giving back. The house also has the first kitchen cabinets built and shipped from a new cabinet shop operated by MDS in Kansas.
“I’d like to thank God and all the volunteers,” said Byrd.
Since 2012, volunteers from MDS, Lutheran Disaster Response, and other partner organizations have built 53 new homes and have elevated 11 more. “Of those 64 homes, not a single one has gotten wet from flood events,” said Pastor Phillip C. Huber, a Lutheran Disaster Response regional coordinator.
“I think your feet are gonna stay dry from now on,” he said to a smiling Linda Byrd.
Mayor Taylor expressed gratitude as well. “It is amazing what you do and it just changes the lives of all of our citizens,” she said.
For the Gillespie family—Nicole, Edward, and sons Edward Jr. and Jacob—the worst flooding came in late 2021, badly damaging their home, yet they continued to live there.
“I’d like to thank God and all the volunteers,”
— Linda Byrd
“It tried my patience and yet it brought me closer to God,” said Nicole, adding, as she turned to volunteers attending the dedication: “I love you from the bottom of my heart and I hope that God carries you each and every day.”
As Edward worked long hours to support his family, he had little time to work on the house. “The lights were flickering on and off,” he said. “People asked me how I could still live there, and I would tell them that my family was in there. We were praying and praying and praying.”
Now, when the boys get home from school, they can’t wait to hang out in their rooms, said Nicole. “They say, after a storm, you get a rainbow,” she said. “These volunteers were definitely a rainbow.”
MDS regional operations coordinator Larry Stoner said, when he first met the Gillespie family at their flood-damaged home, he knew something had to change. “My prayer is that you will live here a long time,” he said at the dedication.
Hazel Cropper—an 85-year-old crab-picking champion—moved into her new home after coping with so many hurricane and flood recoveries she can’t remember them all.
“As many times as floods came in, my dear friend Hazel would be out there sweeping out the water,” recalled Mayor Taylor. “Her old house stood on the ground.”
Now, from Cropper’s perspective, her new elevated home “was done by God through the hands of volunteers.” She believes the house will hold forever.
“I’m never gonna forget you,” she said. “I’m so glad God sent these volunteers. They show the glory of God working through each and every one of them.”
Susan Kim, MDS Writer