Ellicott City braces for two-day downpour

WASHINGTON — As most of the region prepares for a thorough drenching over the next few days, residents of flood-damaged Ellicott City may be viewing the skies with a bit more trepidation than most.

The National Weather Service, which issued a Flash Flood Watch Wednesday for most of the area, including Howard County, said the entire region faces up to 3 to 6 inches of rain and the potential for “severe flooding” through Friday morning.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman told WTOP he’s concerned about the forecast but he’s not expecting a repeat of the deadly flash flooding of two months ago, when strong showers dumped 6 inches of rain on Ellicott City in just two hours, and raging floodwaters tore through the town’s historic Main Street.

“When I hear about possible flash flood warnings and I hear about large rainfall, I certainly am concerned,” he said. “However, I think it’s important to make folks aware of the fact that this is very different from what happened on July 30.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic that things will be fine,” Kittleman said. “But we’re also very prepared and we’ll continue to monitor it very closely and continue to communicate with our residents and business owners and property owners.”

Kittleman said his office is monitoring conditions and has dispatched inspectors around town to shore up vulnerable spots.

“We think we’re prepared and we’re hopeful that this storm will not be as strong as they even predict,” Kittleman said. “But even if it is, it won’t be the same as what happened in July.”

Also, Kittleman said police would set up checkpoints throughout the city over the next two days in case there is flooding and people need to evacuate.

Parts of Ellicott City’s Main Street were devastated by the July flooding. Numerous businesses were damaged and remain shuttered, and parts of Main Street are still closed to drivers nearly two months after the flood.

Earlier this month, county officials fully reopened Main Street to pedestrian traffic as local business owners and contractors continued repairing storefronts and shoring up buildings.

Kittleman said he didn’t expect the two-day downpour to set back rebuilding efforts all that much.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue … It’s not going to be that much of a hindrance,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll be gone by Friday.

Get the latest weather updates on WTOP.com’s weather page.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report. 

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