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Flooding, looming federal shutdown don’t dampen spirits at Tawes

Demetria Marshall, chair of the Wicomico County Democratic Central Committee carries supplies through ankle-deep tidal waters that flooded the Somers Cove Marina during the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

On a day when thousands came to Crisfield for crabs and politics, the tide was an unwelcome guest.

Ankle-deep water covered sizable portions of the black top at Somers Cove Marina, where crowds lined up for food and beverages. Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor saw an opportunity.

Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor greets Gov. Wes Moore (D) as the two look over flooding outside the Somers Cove Marina Wednesday. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

“This is our opportunity to get that exposure, even from a political standpoint,” said Taylor, standing near a flooded parking lot awaiting the arrival of Gov. Wes Moore (D). “And then looking at the challenge that we’re facing today. That’s your everyday challenge. I would love for the governor not to have to wade in the water but seeing it up close and personal gives a much better understanding of what we’re doing.”

A truck was brought in and pumped out the water, making it easier for attendees to get to the food stations. It is a temporary fix.

“I would just like them to understand how important it is to preserve our place. If you think about it, we’re in a situation where we are very vulnerable to climate,” said Taylor. “And so, I want them to understand how special a place Crisfield is so when we come asking for support, we’re hoping that they will hear us. They’ll understand because they will have been here.”

Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor demonstrates her crab picking technique for Gov. Wes Moore. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

The 46th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is as much an Annapolis insider event as it is a crustacean celebration for locals who come to break hush puppies and fried clams and steamed crabs.

Official attendance figures were not available, but thousands typically descend on the Eastern Shore town for the one-day event.

Moore, whose SUV drove through the flooded parking lot, greeted Taylor.

“I think when you look at the damage and in the long-lasting damage that is coming from storms, the thing that we continue to see is that it’s not just that the storms are happening with a greater level of frequency,” Moore told reporters. “It’s a greater level of intensity. And so, we have to be prepared to be able to deal with the aftermath.”

“We’re going to take care of this,” he assured the mayor. Crisfield officials are trying to fight persistent nuisance flooding on a variety of fronts.

Moore spent about 90 minutes shaking hands, posing for selfies, and cracking a few crabs in Crisfield.

The throngs of people jockeying for a glimpse of or photo with the new governor was the peak in an otherwise low-energy political event.

Only two candidates for U.S. Senate were spotted, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D). Another major contender, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), was in Washington, D.C. — as Congress attempts to avert a shutdown.

Crisfield, ready for its annual close-up

Maryland would be disproportionately affected by a shutdown because of the substantial number of federal jobs and contractors in the state.

“I think even a short shutdown could have longterm and devastating consequences for the national economy and certainly has an outsized impact in states that have a large federal presence like Maryland,” said Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D). “We saw that a few years ago. Even during sequestration, we saw an immediate hit to our economy and to our revenues in the form of decreased income taxes as people lost their jobs.”

Lierman said it would not take long to feel the effects.

“I think as soon as you get to a missed paycheck, that’s when families are hurting, companies are hurting, and payroll can’t be made, and contractors are spending less and they’re not spending money and stress increases,” she said. “So, I think as soon as people hit a missed paycheck it it can really have devastating and long-term impacts.”

Moore, who has already warned of a tightening budget in the coming year, said a shutdown could exacerbate the problem. Moore called a looming shutdown “unnecessary and frankly pretty inhumane.”

“My concerns are real and they’re significant, especially when you consider the fact that Maryland has the third largest number of federal employees and federal contractors,” he said. “So this is not hypothetical in terms of the impact on our economy. This is going to have a massive impact on our economy.”

William J. Ford contributed to this report.


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Flooding, looming federal shutdown don’t dampen spirits at Tawes