Repeat of fatal summer flooding unlikely but Ellicott City residents wary

A view of Ellicott City's Main Street Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
A view of Ellicott City’s Main Street Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

Ellicott City's Main Street under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
Ellicott City’s Main Street under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

A view of Ellicott City under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
A view of Ellicott City under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

The Tiber River in Ellicott City. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
The Tiber River in Ellicott City. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

The Tiber River in Ellicott City where it flows under Court Avenue. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
The Tiber River in Ellicott City where it flows under Court Avenue. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

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A view of Ellicott City's Main Street Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
Ellicott City's Main Street under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
A view of Ellicott City under rainy skies Sept. 29. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
The Tiber River in Ellicott City. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)
The Tiber River in Ellicott City where it flows under Court Avenue. (Courtesy Howard County Office of Emergency Management/Facebook)

WASHINGTON — As rain drenches the Washington region, residents and businesses in Ellicott City were fearing a repeat of this summer’s fatal flooding.

The region is expecting three to five inches of rain in total over several days, a much more reasonable pace than the six inches that were dumped in two hours in late July.

“Of course, there’s spots where it’s going to hit harder and that’s what I was really concerned with,” Ellicott City resident Jason Gallagher told WTOP Thursday morning.

“Every time it rains, I’m concerned about the runoff,” he said.

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

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman told WTOP on Wednesday 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,” Kittleman 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.”

But for residents, it’s hard not to think about that damage.

“We look at the streets and we watch the little rivers come down and we wonder how it’s going down on Main Street,” Gallagher stated. He moved into his home that sits on a hill overlooking downtown six months ago.

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.”

A lot of work has been put in to repairing the damage done, enough to prevent a repeat or extra subsequent destruction.

“The work that the county has done and that others have done over the last couple of months is helping,” Ellicott City resident Dennis Hanratty noted. “It looks like it’s being channeled in the right places.”

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

WTOP’s Dick Uliano and Jack Moore contributed to this report.

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