Teens volunteer to dig out sewage in Ellicott City

ellicott city 20 From left, Students Giana Han, 19, Alex Booth, 19, Taruna Emani, 18, Olivia Black, 19, and Matt Rutkowski, 17, help during the clean up of Ellicott City after the flood that ravaged the city. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
hocohelp2 The Bainum Family Foundation acquired a 263-acre Virginia farm in 2015 and wants to use the Middleburg property to grow fruits and vegetables to serve families in the District's Wards 7 and 8. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
hocohlep1 Giana Han, 19, a student at Pennsylvania State University, and Alex Booth, 19, a student at St. Mary's College, help with the Ellicott City flood clean-up. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
hocohelp3 Taruna Emani, 18, an incoming freshman at Carnegie Mellon, helps in the Ellicott City clean up efforts. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
hocohelp4 Matt Rutkowski, 17, a student at Centennial High School, helps during the Ellicott City clean-up. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
hocohelp5 Olivia Black, 19, a student at the University of Maryland, and Matt Rutkowski, 17, a student at Centennial High School, help with the Ellicott City flood clean-up. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — In the blazing heat they walked up and down Old Ellicott City’s flood zone — a group of young people sometimes trudging up the hills, sometimes dashing door to door to help residents hit by the flash floods that rushed though the city July 30.

The teenagers, high school and college students volunteering with Centennial Relief, were pushing a wheelbarrow filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and bag lunches, which are all free to the families affected by the flash flooding.

Many homeowners had recently returned to see basements and first floors filled with soaked furniture and carpets. Some homes suffered serious structural damage as well.

Nineteen-year-old Alex Booth, a college student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, spent Tuesday helping a family clean up.

“Someone’s basement was flooded with sewage so we put on the full bodysuits and dug it out with masks and stuff.”

He called it an “intense” experience. Another family requested help sorting through mud-caked appliances and furniture.

Centennial High School student Matt Rutkowski,17, said that some of the families were just overwhelmed.

“There’s a lot of people out here and they need a lot of stuff after what happened, and we’re just trying to fulfill that need with what we have,” he said.

Despite the heat and walking up hills, Rutkowski was beaming.

“It just makes me so happy to be out here and to help people. It’s a really good feeling,” he said.

To learn more about the recovery efforts and how to participate, go to the Howard County website.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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