Smith Island Leans on Faith, Neighbors in Tornado Cleanup

By Kristian Jaime | October 17, 2022

SMITH ISLAND, Md. (AP) — The aftermath of the tornado that struck Smith Island is still visible two months after it carved a destructive path through the sparsely populated Chesapeake Bay archipelago.

The EF1 tornado began as a waterspout that continued on land, damaged a number of piers and homes despite not seriously injuring any residents. With winds of 73-112 mph, the most severe damage was to power lines; the home of elderly resident Doris Lee Bradshaw, who was injured while she slept inside; and a bed-and-breakfast, which lost its entire third floor.

For Pastor Everett Landon, growing up on the island meant dealing with swift and possibly dangerous inclement weather. He can still see the rubble of the Bradshaw house that has yet to be removed or rebuilt.

“Our faith is very important on the island, and we pray for God to protect us when storms or bad weather happens. If we do have damage, we just pray (in thanksgiving) that we stayed safe. We’re just like any other place where neighbors have disagreements, but those are the same people who will be there helping you when you need it,” Landon said.

Rubble still remains after tornado

The small touches of home like couches and other decor in the Bradshaw home are still strewn about in a pile of lumber and roofing. A short walk from the remnants of the house is the Island Time Bed and Breakfast. Signage in front of the B&B shows the building in better times before the tornado reduced the building by an entire floor. It now sports a makeshift roof of only with a tarp.

What took the owners of Island Time years to build and perfect stood in a completed state only briefly.

Efforts by local organizations like Smith Island United — led by Eddie Somers, Johnny Crantz Tyler, Scott Andreozzi, Duke Marshall, photographer Jay Fleming and Pastor Landon — have been at the forefront of rebuilding efforts.

“I don’t remember of a tornado coming ashore here, but I have seen it once before in my lifetime, but that was elsewhere. We’ve has squalls, but that might have been the first time in some hundred years that it came onto land,” Somers said.

The Smith Island United Committee for Tornado Relief met in mid-September to discuss the first round of checks to be issued to uninsured tornado damage claimants.

These first round of checks, approved in unanimous votes and distributed within 10 days, total approximately $34,000 that will take care of approximately 50% of claims submitted, according to the group’s social media post.

That left 13 claimants that have insurance. Most of the insured claimants had significant damage with some property being totally destroyed. Delays are due to getting all the necessary information from the insurance companies.

Much needed road repairs on the island were also addressed by Smith Island United in a social media post on Sept. 30. Somerset County Roads Director Woody Barnes noted Sept. 6, at the regularly scheduled Somerset County Roads Board, the bids for Smith Island Roads projects were opened with two contractors submitting bids.

DSM Properties LLC of Randallstown, Maryland, was the low bidder, submitting a bid of $1,870,962, which was $620,962 over the fiscal 2023 budgeted amount of $1,250,000. The county had received a $1,000,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

That shortfall prompted the county to consider the possibility obtaining additional grant funds. But the decision was made to request the funds from the county itself. A special session of the Roads Board included a recommendation to fund the shortfall and award the contract to DSM Properties, without deviation from the original scope work.

According to the board, the proposed work addresses the current conditions of daily tide influences and deteriorating roads with emphasizes made for potential rising sea levels in the future.

“We are excited to get work on this project, and have already begun to do so. Following Tuesday’s approval, I met with the contractor and they have already begun work, submitting material products and specifications for our approval and working on a logistic plan,” Barnes said to Smith Island United in correspondence.

About Kristian Jaime

Jaime wrote this for the Daily Times.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.