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That might be exaggeration, but not much in context. After Hurricane Sandy passed Maryland a few communities were left sopping from the tidal surge, and Crisfield was hurt the most.

Crisfield, an elderly boomtown of about 2,500 people in Maryland's poorest county, Somerset, is certainly one of the poorest places in the state. Exact stats are hard to find but Crisfield's per capita income seems to be about $17,000.

Information on how to help is online at

For more, get your tongs past the orange spat:

FEMA decided that it would assist Somerset with damaged infrastructure, but also decided that there wasn't enough damage to assist individuals. It appears from news accounts the FEMA assistance extends to the city for damage to things like the city docks. But no aid for individuals, so far, is forthcoming.

Based on reports, it seems about 50 dwellings were destroyed and another 500 damaged  or affected in some way in the greater Crisfield area. A public housing development on the south side of town was particularly affected.

On Nov. 12, DelmarvaNOW reported:

State housing officials are working with about 160 families, many in Crisfield, to find assistance. The Crisfield Public Housing Authority has about 70 families in hotels and has begun repairs to 42 of the 140 units in the Somer’s Cove development that were damaged by a tidal surge.
Crisfield is on a point on land with shallow, Eastern Shore style "rivers" on either side. It faces a wide cove which would funnel waves and water into town. All around is marshland. There's nothing wrong with marshland, of course, but the ditches and eelruts provide other ways for water to invade.

It's notorious for having had much of the downtown built on fill made of oyster shells during the boom times, more than a century ago, when the railroad arrived and billions of oysters were shipped to cities. Click here to go to the Google map page.

As an aside, John Woodland Crisfield, the man who is honored by the name, was a railroad executive who brought the rails there. He was born not far from where I live, in Kent County, Maryland. The Woodland house, a big Italianate building, still stands nearby.

With ancestors from Somerset County and all the way down the Shore to Cape Charles, I've been all around the area. We have friends in Crisfield (who are OK). But it's very sad to see a place that's down-and-out get slapped hard and then ignored.

Back to the Present

WJZ-TV in Baltimore put it this way: "Asking for disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy slammed into Crisfield brought sympathy from FEMA but no money." The hurricane really didn't slam, but friends say the tidal surge worked its way through town, and it was steady and relentless, like a tiny tsunami.


... the governor asked for federal disaster relief. Money for repairing infrastructure was approved, but now federal help won’t be coming to homeowners and businesses because not enough damage was done. ...

"We are a small town in a rural area and you got to look at the level of damage we had, the level of income in this area–which is extremely low–and take all that into consideration,” said Crisfield Mayor P.J. Purnell.

WMDT-TV put this video report online.

FEMA estimated the overall repair cost at $27 million. Its assistance formula indicated that state and local governments would be able to handle that. Again, news reports are not completely clear on whether the public housing is factored into the aid equation but it appears that's considered part of the "infrastructure" that will receive some help.

But clearly, in the poorest county in the state, there's not a lot of spare cash, nor are Crisfield's people generally in the income bracket where they would be able to rebuild from the ground up. Apparently, the FEMA decision applies to local businesses too, and we all know how precarious times are for locally-based businessfolks.

So while waiting to see if Senators Mikulski and Cardin can budge the bureaucrats or whether the say-so of 1st Congressional District wingnut Republican can have any effect, I'd ask anyone who'd like to assist to contact the Chamber of Commerce.

Crisfield Area Chamber of Commerce is a 501c(6) and donations are tax-deductible. They created the web page, and will take donations here:

Originally posted to dadadata on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:11 AM PST.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In a poor place small amounts go a long way. (14+ / 0-)

    And I repeat: the Crisfield Area Chamber of Commerce is a 501c(6) and donations are tax-deductible. The created the web page for, and will take donations here:

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:01:33 AM PST

  •  Does Andy Harris (5+ / 0-)

    even think FEMA should exist?

  •  I think the rest of MD should help. (3+ / 0-)

    I'm including myself in that.
    even though I'm getting slammed by state taxes this year, I'd definitely be willing to pay a little more to help you guys out.
    I would hope that other Marylanders would feel the same.

    If the feds won't help, it falls to us, right?

    There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:11:31 AM PST

  •  I hate to be like this, but I definitely want to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    parryander, jan4insight, Dirtandiron

    know the status of the relationship between the local Chamber and its National counterpart.  If it's a member, then I'd like them to go to the National rather than to us for help.  That would be a way better use of the National Chamber's money than what they've been doing with it these most recent election cycles and I'm not so inclined to let them off the hook.  I'd be happy to join in a campaign to get the National CofC to help out.

    The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

    by Alice Olson on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:32:28 AM PST

  •  I think your title is uncalled for. (4+ / 0-)

    I sympathize with the people who are suffering in Crisfield and I hope they get the help they need. I can also understand FEMA's decision to not intervene based on the amount of damage.

    Where is the State of Maryland in all this?  FEMA felt that this damage could be handled on the State and local level. What are these government bodies doing to help citizens in need. Where is the Red Cross?

    FEMA can't assist in every disaster. Here in Indianapolis, there was a massive gas explosion about a month ago which severely damaged or destroyed 86 homes in a housing development. The people affected are being assisted by the city and groups like the Red Cross. Many local residents have also gotten involved, working to repair the houses that survived the explosion, and even taking in families who are without a place to stay.

    I applaud your efforts to raise money to help the people of Crisfield. I will send what I can. I hope many other Kossacks rise to the occasion.

    I think this is a terrible thing for Crisfield. I don't think it is appropriate to blame FEMA for doing more than they are. They have guidelines that they operate under. they can't possibly respond to every local disaster.

    The State of Maryland should take the lead in this, if the local authorities aren't up to the task. I would also suggest getting some press coverage on what the insurance companies are doing. After the explosion here, which was obviously a big story - and still is  - several of the insurance companies sent out teams to set-up mobile offices to expedite claims processing. They seemed to try and outdo each other in their effort to appear to be the most customer friendly.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:55:22 AM PST

    •  I see your point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OIL GUY

      But it's a snarkdown on a famous NY Post headline from the 1970s.


      It's meant to be ironic, in that NYC had platoons of investment bankers to keep it out of bankruptcy. I think the lead guy was Felix Rohatyn.

      Crisfield, really, has little surplus anything. So this is simply a news summary trying to pull things together. The available stuff online is pretty sketchy. There have been a couple radio discussions on Baltimore radio.

      And truthfully, the people of Crisfield (who are almost certainly by a huge margin rural conservatives, unlikely to know DK even exists) still deserve whatever help people are willing to pass along.

      Since I'm quite a ways from Crisfield, I can't tell you with more precision what exactly the Red Cross and state are doing. I'm sure they're not slacking off.

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:57:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i almost hate to ask (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but how did smith island fare with sandy?

    "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

    by homo neurotic on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:42:30 AM PST

  •  I will definitely be giving. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know what about the Eastern Shore renders it invisible to FEMA (and too often, the state govt as well). The area has Maryland's poorest counties, and it's these areas that suffer most when a disaster hits.

    Thanks for bringing the Crisfield Recovery site to our attention!

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