ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A week after the flooding in Ellicott City, residents, business owners and property owners returned to clean up. From noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, people removed trash and debris from their properties and helped others with the cleanup.
Van Fochios lives a few minutes from Old Ellicott City. He and his sister were part of a group at least 10 deep who planned to help start tidying up at Portalli’s, an Italian restaurant along Main Street.
“Just trying to get it back to normal,” he said. Their plans were to help primarily at Portalli’s, but added, “If any other places need it, we’ll just be moving around and helping.”
Claudia Fochios found out about the Portalli’s cleanup after the restaurant owner posted on social media. She told WTOP that Main Street is one of their favorite hangout locations, and she often spends time catching up with friends at Portalli’s bar.
She recounted, “It’s your old ‘Cheers’ bar. You know, you walk in, you know everybody, you know the bartenders, you know your friends are there…It’s one of those places where it really is your home away from home.”
Matthew Milani also came out for the cleanup. He owns The Rumor Mill Fusion Bar and Restaurant. He said Sunday was assessment day, and he planned to see what assistance is available from the city and county, along with federal and state aid.
Milani didn’t expect to feel shocked after seeing the damage because it was his fourth visit since last week’s flood. However, he noted it might be a more sentimental day.
“Things that you see in the mud, that you’ve seen everyday for the last 10 years. You know, our building needs us more now than it ever has, so we’re really going to try and make things work, and figure out what we can do,” Milani said.
George Fitzgerald says his fingers were crossed while traveling to his collectibles store inside the Antique Depot.
“I had no damage at all,” he said. While he told WTOP he felt blessed, he added, “My heart goes out to anyone who was injured, lost their lives or lost their homes.”
In the meantime, another Main Street business owner who lost everything is looking for help to rebuild what he has worked to establish during the past 10 years.
The owner of Johnny’s Bistro on Main described a mud-caked dining room and said pots, pans, and everything else in the dining room floated away during the flood.
“The kitchen area took the worst…Broken glass from the windows. That’s where all the water came in,” said Johnny Breidenbach. “It’s devastating, overwhelming what I saw.”
Breidenbach put in a call to his insurance company, but said, “I don’t have flood insurance. They’re not touching it.” He has set up a GoFundMe page for donations.
“There’s a lot of worker ants down there today,” Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman noted of the cleanup effort.
The county provided several dumpsters and garbage bags for business owners to toss trash and debris. He added, “They’re shoveling out a lot of mud, a lot of dirt and making big differences. Ellicott City looks totally different…from what it was just last week this time.”
Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who grew up in Ellicott City, spent several hours walking through Main Street, taking in the damage and talking with residents, business owners and volunteers on his day off from training camp.
“It’s tough to see, but the people are so positive, and they’re so many volunteers helping out. It’s awesome, just to see the people rallying around each other,” Campanaro said.
Last week, Campanaro announced that the Ravens are donating $10,000 for relief in Ellicott City.
Here are some other recovery efforts happening:
- The Disaster Assistance Center has served 102 residents and 96 businesses. The center, located at 9401 Frederick Rd., is a “one-stop shop” for Ellicott City property owners to get information about agencies and organizations that can offer assistance with recovery.
- The Howard County Office of Workforce Development will hold a job fair on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Disaster Assistance Center on Frederick Road.
- Twenty-five vehicles are still at Centennial High School. If owners have not removed their vehicles before 8 p.m. Sunday, the remaining vehicles will be towed to an impound facility at the owner’s expense.
To learn more about the recovery efforts and how to participate, go to the Howard County website.
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