January 16, 2024
Crisfield is getting a New Year’s boost
The small town of Crisfield, Maryland, is getting a boost in the form of 106 home elevations that will put residents—who have borne the brunt of repetitive flooding—out of harm’s way.
The mitigation project is being led by a new Blue Ribbon Task Force comprised of 57 people representing faith-based partners, universities, environmental groups, the federal government, and foundations.
The task force plans to raise $6.5 million for the effort, according to Phil Huber, coordinator of agencies for the Eastern Shore Long-Term Recovery Group, out of which the task force formed.
Volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) will provide the labor involved in preparing the house for raising. Then two local contractors will raise the homes, and MDS volunteers will chime back in to re-apply siding and make other repairs so that families can move back in.
Larry Stoner, MDS regional operations coordinator, explained that there are 1,900 properties in Crisfield that have a 26 percent chance of being flooded in the next 30 years. “With a population of only about 2,500, elevating that many homes in Crisfield would bring a better sense of security to a significant percentage of the town’s residents,” he said.
That sense of security has already started for homeowner Annette Morgan, whose home was elevated eight feet above ground. “I’m ecstatic,” she said. “I’ll be able to sleep at night despite the high tide warnings on my phone.”
Once the 106 homes are completed, the project will be one of the largest mitigation efforts in the history of MDS. Huber said he hopes the model can be replicated by other communities.
“The uniqueness of this project is that it weds together long-term recover and mitigation,” said Huber, who articulated three goals of the project: “to prevent repetitive loss, to be good stewards of the funding entrusted to us, and most importantly, to significantly improve the quality of life for the families we’re working with.”
Huber added; “They can go to bed at night and don’t have to worry: Is it going to rain tonight? Is the house going to flood?”
Susan Kim, MDS Writer