CRISFIELD, Md. - On a cool December day, dozens of Crisfield residents stare out into the Chesapeake Bay for the first time in over a year on the renovated pier.
A repaved parking lot and brand new wooden planks are in place now, a place once torn apart by Superstorm Sandy. Also, a rebuilt depot is now open to the public, all costing the city a reported $1.5 million.
Mayor PJ Purnell says he was surprised the city finished the project in 13 months.
"There's a lot of subliminal damage here that you can't show with a camera," said Purnell.
The psychological damage to residents, Purnell says, has been difficult to heal after dozens of homes flooded and needed work after the storm. But Purnell tells WMDT the new pier is just the beginning of the effort.
"We're looking to jump start a few businesses," said Purnell. "Our hope would be to put a building [in the empty spot next to the pier] and to initialize a 'port authority restaurant' kind of concept."
On top of the potential restaurant, revitalizing the downtown and adding new industries to Crisfield are also on local leaders minds.
Rev. Betty Smith of the Somerset County Long Term Recovery committee says the cities now needs more businesses to open shop.
"Wherever the business can locate, particularly Main Street, we're looking at facade and things for the businesses," said Smith. "There are going to be some consistency in representation of what this seashore community could look like."
The next big step for Crisfield is economic development, according to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.). The major industries right now in the area are tourism, agriculture and seafood. While there's hope to grow all three, Mikulski says there's hope to expand private sector in technology due to the recent success of the space program.
"We want people to live here and spend money here," said Mikulski.
In the meantime, restoration does continue. Smith says that within the next month, SCLTR will be rebuilding seven more homes in the area.
So far, Maryland communities received more than $73.5 million in federal funds related to Superstorm Sandy, according to Mikulski's office.
This includes $33.2 million in federal individual and public assistance through FEMA, $27.6 million in CDBG funding through HUD and $12.5 million through the Department of the Interior to mitigate future storm damage for shore communities.