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Historical preservation organization ready to help Ellicott City rebuild

On July 30, 2016, floodwaters tore through the city’s downtown and nearby neighborhoods, leaving two people dead and many homes and businesses damaged. (Kevin Rector/The Baltimore Sun via AP, file)

WASHINGTON — The flooding that swept through Ellicott City in Howard County is being called one of the worst disasters to hit a historic area in Maryland in many years. The force of the water sent cars into buildings, destroying several structures, and leaving some in very bad shape.

One Maryland historical preservation organization says it ready to step in and help the town, and the owners of historic buildings, in the rebuilding process.

“It’s gonna be a massive undertaking, but one that is definitely worthwhile and important,” said Nicholas Redding, executive director for Preservation Maryland.

Redding says devastation like that seen in Ellicott City hasn’t been witnessed since Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, which caused flood waters to move through Frederick’s downtown.

In Ellicott City, Redding says what made this flood so bad was the force of the water as it flowed through the city. Many very old buildings have their bottom floors in shambles, and a few historic structures have been shifted on their foundations.

Redding said his organization is ready to help residents with historic buildings find contractors, architects, and other experts who are needed to help properly restore the city’s storied structures.

“They’ll never be the same after a flood like this, but we can save the essences of what is Ellicott City,” Redding said.

The organization has also begun a trust fund for the devastation in Ellicott City, all the money going to help the city restore its historic buildings.

Redding says the process of getting the buildings rehabilitated will take years, since many buildings need to be shored up before owners can even enter them to work on the inside.

After the flooding in Frederick, the city and state came together in the years to follow to take steps to lower the flood risk to the downtown. Redding hopes a similar plan is put into action for Ellicott City, a town which has seen flooding in the past.

Redding calls the city one of the crown jewels of historic sites in the state, falling on the same level of towns like Annapolis, Frederick and Havre De Grace and Easton.

“It’s something that we can’t afford to lose as a state,” Redding said.

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