29 March 2013 (DelmarvaNow) – Last October’s Hurricane Sandy was a costly affair for Somerset County, hitting Crisfield residents especially hard, with flood waters up to 5 feet deep that destroyed property and in the aftermath, shook the town’s economic and physical foundations.
There was little time to escape rapidly rising waters as the storm swept ashore that day. Predictions about the storm’s effects proved stunningly wrong. Post-storm research has uncovered new information that suggests Crisfield sits at the epicenter of previously unknown tidal phenomena that puts the town at high risk of similarly devastating flooding in the future.
Much of the land that surrounds the Chesapeake Bay is, unfortunately, gradually disappearing. Rising water has already claimed more than one previously inhabited island in the bay. FEMA is redrawing its flood maps in coastal regions, and that means property owners in more low-lying areas will see rising flood insurance premiums beginning as early as this month.
Whatever you believe about climate change, the evidence of sea-level rise is indisputable. Anyone who suffers losses and chooses to build within flood plains should expected to pay more to risk a repeat experience. Even those whose families have lived for generations in areas like Crisfield are a different matter, but even they must face reality. They cannot rebuild every time the land floods and expect public or private insurance settlements to bail them out repeatedly.
It must be heart-wrenching to realize one’s descendants — perhaps oneself — will be forced to leave behind what is left of an ancestral home. Yet it must happen. Otherwise, the encroaching sea will continue to wreak costly havoc with property and lives.