October 22, 2023
“I want to pray for this town and the people in it”
Eddie Gillespie can finally rest. For weeks—which stretched into months—Eddie, his wife Nicole, and his two children, Jacob and Edward, tried to sleep on the second floor of a house so flood-damaged it almost became a deathtrap.
Their former home, built in 1921, withstood many of the repeat floods in the Maryland bayside town of Crisfield, but the house seemed to crumble a bit more every year, recalled Eddie.
The floods during late 2021 were the final straw. After roads were closed because of high water, Eddie vividly remembered walking home from work in the dark with water up to his hips.
“When I got home, I heard a loud buzzing noise—I wasn’t sure where that came from,” he said. “But then I saw the water was about three inches from coming into my main electrical box.”
Since the flood wasn’t declared a federal disaster, Eddie and his family had few options but to move up to the second floor of the house, and live as best they could.
Then Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Regional Operations Coordinator Larry Stoner, working through the Eastern Shore Long-term Recovery Committee, came to see the Gillespies at their house.
When we walked in that door, when they gave us the key to that house, I could finally rest,
— Eddie Gillespie
“I was embarrassed at the condition my family was living in,” said Eddie. “But Larry looked at me and gave me the best answer I could ever have in my life: ‘you’re going to get a new house.’ ”
Eddie knew at that moment that his sleepless nights wouldn’t last forever. “The house was just so old,” he said. “We would get wind gusts that were 65 or 70 miles per hour with a regular storm, and you could feel the house moving. And, always, the loud buzzing noise, the electricity going on and off. We were so afraid of a fire.”
His new home was dedicated in April, and he now sleeps well. “When we walked in that door, when they gave us the key to that house, I could finally rest,” he said. “I don’t have to worry. What the Mennonites did for us was a true blessing.”
His wife, Nicole Gillespie, has her own memories of the aftermath of the flooding. “I went out there in the night, and I told God: ‘I’m sorry that I only come to you when it betters me—so I want to pray for this town and the people in it,’ ” she said. “The MDS volunteers are my village—heaven sent.”
She will always remember the day her family opened the door to their new home.”I can’t explain to you what ‘not having’ and then ‘having’ has done for me,” she said. “I appreciate you so much and I honestly pray that God pays it forward to each and every one of you.”
Susan Kim, MDS Writer