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Conservation Gateway » Conservation By Geography » North America » United States » Maryland

Scoping Flood Adaptation Strategies with Crisfield

Collaborating with a Maryland Community to Support Local Resilience to Flooding

Project Overview

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the community of Crisfield and researchers from George Mason University (GMU) and the University of Maryland's Environmental Finance Center (EFC) to bring flood adaptation support to Crisfield, Maryland. We recognize that flooding presents an enormous challenge for the Crisfield community, and is increasingly limiting Crisfield's potential and threatens the overall health of the community. We also recognize that as a rural municipality with constrained resources, the City has limited capacity to plan for future flooding challenges as tidal flooding and storms worsen. 

To address these changes, we are working to identify flood adaptation strategies that support the social and financial health of the community.

Members from several Maryland National Guard units were deployed to Crisfield, MD to assist local authorities with house-to-house evacuation on October 30, 2012. Guard members helped first responders evacuate senior citizens, families and children in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. © US National Guard.

With funding from NOAA's Adaptation Science Program and Lockheed Martin, we will be leading a two-year project to collaboratively scope a set of community-backed flood resilient adaptation projects and planning strategies. Our goal is to provide City decision-makers with recommended adaptation approaches that support ongoing flood mitigation and planning efforts while also lifting up the community's resilience goals.

Our project team will be bringing coastal modeling expertise and economic assessment tools to evaluate the feasibility, sustainability and community benefits of various flood adaptation options under different flooding scenarios to help identify a suite of resilient flood adaptation strategies for Crisfield. We will also explore financing and policy options to implement recommended strategies. But our project's success hinges on guidance and input from leaders in the community to ensure that what we evaluate and ultimately recommend supports community resilience needs and goals in the face of ongoing and future flooding challenges.  

Sunset from the Depot over Crisfield's Waterfront © Elizabeth Van Dolah / TNC

Community Collaboration: Community Advisory Committee

The project research team has recruited a small group of grassroots leaders to serve on a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to collaboratively carry out an assessment of flood adaptation in Crisfield.

The CAC's primary role is to serve as the local subject matter experts for on-the-ground conditions and experiences throughout the Crisfield community. Therefore, the role of the CAC is to bring local expertise and knowledge into the project assessment, and to represent the interests of the community in the project more broadly.

Specifically, the CAC will help the research team: 

  • Identify project focus areas;
  • Select a suite of adaptation options (e.g., green and/or grey infrastructure projects, nature-based solutions, adaptive planning strategies) for the research team to evaluate;
  • Select storm event examples to incorporate into modeled flood scenarios that are relevant to the community; 
  • Scope representative flood cost figures to inform the assessment;
  • Provide feedback on processes, communications and project outputs;
  • Assist in the prioritization of recommendations to local governments and other community decisions-makers.

We are grateful to have the guidance of these trusted community leaders and advocates and look forward to working with our community partners to identify feasible, sustainable and supportive adaptation options for Crisfield.

Community Advisory Committee Members

Pat Carson
Former Teacher, Chamber of Commerce, Tawes Museum Board, The Park Board, Sandy Recovery Committee and former Planning and Zoning Board for Somerset County.
Billy Jo Chandler
President of the Economic Development Committee of Crisfield, Tourism Business Owner
​Andre Collins
Youth Advocate, Business Owner, Community Center Director
Pastors Vernel & Lynette Cottman
Blancia Rose Faith and Healing Chapel
​Phil Goldsborough
Tawes Heritage Museum Board Member, American Legions, Local Historian, Marine Industry Business Owner
Pastor Anthony Jackson
Charity Holiness Church
​Sue Heath
​Marine Industry Business Owner

Frances Martinez Myers (Donnie Drewer, Alternate)
Greater Crisfield Action Coalition President (Greater Crisfield Action Coalition Vice President)
Hitesh Patel
Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, Crisfield Arts and Entertainment District Board Member, Hotel Business Owner
Pastor Jim Riley, Jr.
Immanuel United Methodist Church
Casey Todd
Owner/President of MeTompkin Bay Oyster Company
Betty HorseyIt Takes A Village to Help Our Children, Inc.
Buddy Ward
Educator, Board Member of Chamber of Commerce
Lee Wilson

Project Research Team Members

Liz Van Dolah
Project Director/ Environmental Anthropologist
The Nature Conservancy


Joe Galarraga
Project Manager/ Community Engagement Specialist
The Nature Conservancy


Jackie Specht
Coastal Adaptation Strategy Liaison 
The Nature Conservancy
Celso Ferreira
Coastal Modeling Lead Researcher
Associate Professor, George Mason University
Andre De Souza De Lima
Coastal Modeling Researcher
Postdoc Researcher, George Mason University
Felicio Cassalho
Coastal Modeling Researcher
Ph.D. Student, George Mason University
Jenny Egan
Economic Assessment Lead Researcher
UMD Environmental Finance Center
Stephanie Dalke
Economic Assessment Researcher
UMD Environmental Finance Center
Brandy Espinola
Economic Assessment Researcher
UMD Environmental Finance Center
Emily Eisenhauer
Social Scientist/Community Resilience Researcher
EPA Office of Research and Development
Louie Rivers
Social Scientist/Community Resilience Researcher
EPA Office of Research and Development
Roxolana Kashuba
Environmental Scientist/Risk Assessor
EPA Office of Research and Development

The Community Advisory Committee and Project Research Team gather for the project kick-off meeting, June 4, 2022. © Jackie Specht / TNC

Project Resources


For questions about this project, please contact: