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A crew of eight volunteers from Puerto Rico are “paying it forward” this week in Crisfield, Maryland, where they are building a new home for a flood survivor. 


Volunteer Demeric Flores, from Ponce, said he sees the parallels between the small city of Crisfield on Maryland’s eastern shore, and the areas of Puerto Rico damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. 


Flores remembers when MDS volunteers helped rebuild homes and repair hundreds of roofs in Puerto Rico, in addition to helping train local residents to build their own wind-resistant roofs. 


“Here in Crisfield, we are building a new home with a new resilience to disasters, building it up so floodwaters can’t get to it,” said Flores. 


Crisfield has been bearing the brunt of repetitive flooding since Hurricane Sandy struck the community nine years ago. 


“Just like back home, they are waiting here for the next disaster,” said Flores. “I believe this home will hold.” 


Local volunteer John Henderson from Holly Grove Mennonite Church in Westover, Maryland—about a 20-minute drive from Crisfield—joined the crew from Puerto Rico for the day. Henderson, 85, volunteered after Hurricane Sandy as well. 


“We built a new home back then for a man who was able to live there for 90 days before he had to go to a nursing home,” said Henderson. “It was sad but also wonderful that he could live there as long as he did.”


Now the Eastern Shore Long Term Recovery Group has a waiting list for new homes as this round of flood survivors cope with a growing mold infestation. 


Kim Hopkins, program coordinator for the Eastern Shore Long Term Recovery Group, knows just about everyone in Crisfield, and said that many people have been living with flood damage for a long time. “In some ways, this latest round of flooding was the worst because it was invisible,” she said. “A house looks fine—then you walk in the door and people have no floor.”


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