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 Crisfieldrecovery.org.
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.Back to the Present
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.
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. ...WMDT-TV put this video report online.
"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.
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 Crisfieldrecovery.org, and will take donations here: