Ellicott City business owner on recent rain: ‘People scatter’

Ellicott City is still undergoing its restoration process after flooding devastated the historic Howard County, Maryland, town. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Several dozen businesses on Main Street in historic Ellicott City have not reopened, two months after the second devastating flash-flooding event in two years. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Well-wishers have hung words of hope on doors of flood-damaged businesses and homes on Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Well-wishers have hung words of hope on doors of flood-damaged businesses and homes on Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The downtown shopping district has a canal below some businesses and homes. After two major floods in two years, the past days of heavy rain have been unsettling for some residents and business owners. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The downtown shopping district has a canal below some businesses and homes. After two major floods in two years, the past days of heavy rain have been unsettling for some residents and business owners. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After several days of heavy rain, the canal under Court Avenue in Ellicott city is well within its banks. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After several days of heavy rain, the canal under Court Avenue in Ellicott city is well within its banks. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The point where the Ellicott City canal meets the Patapsco River. The river was the main flood threat to the historic district, but in recent flooding events, the flooding creeks running into Main Street caused the most devastating damage. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The point where the Ellicott City canal meets the Patapsco River. Historically, the river was the main flood threat to the shopping district, but in recent flooding events, the flooding creeks running into Main Street caused the most devastating damage. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After the recent heavy rain, a worker in Ellicott City makes sure the culvert carrying the canal through downtown is clear of debris. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After the recent heavy rain, a worker in Ellicott City makes sure the culvert carrying the canal through downtown is clear of debris. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Crews are working to restore the entrance to the Howard County Welcome Center on Ellicott City's Main Street. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Crews are working to restore the entrance to the Howard County Welcome Center on Ellicott City’s Main Street. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A worker repairs the fence on foot bridge over Tiber Creek along Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A worker repairs the fence on foot bridge over Tiber Creek along Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
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Ellicott City is still undergoing its restoration process after flooding devastated the historic Howard County, Maryland, town. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Well-wishers have hung words of hope on doors of flood-damaged businesses and homes on Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The downtown shopping district has a canal below some businesses and homes. After two major floods in two years, the past days of heavy rain have been unsettling for some residents and business owners. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After several days of heavy rain, the canal under Court Avenue in Ellicott city is well within its banks. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The point where the Ellicott City canal meets the Patapsco River. The river was the main flood threat to the historic district, but in recent flooding events, the flooding creeks running into Main Street caused the most devastating damage. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After the recent heavy rain, a worker in Ellicott City makes sure the culvert carrying the canal through downtown is clear of debris. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Crews are working to restore the entrance to the Howard County Welcome Center on Ellicott City's Main Street. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A worker repairs the fence on foot bridge over Tiber Creek along Main Street in Ellicott City. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — After several days of heavy rain in historic Ellicott City, Maryland, the canal along Main Street, which was overwhelmed by flash flooding on May 27, was safely within its banks Thursday morning.

However, a businesswoman who owns several properties on the main street of the former mill town, said “everybody kind of has PTSD” — or post-traumatic stress disorder — in the wake of the second devastating flash flood event in two years.

“When it starts to rain, you don’t know if it’s going to rain just a little bit, if it’s going to rain normal, or if it’s going to be another one of our 1,000-year in 20 month floods,” said Kay Robbins, standing near one of her properties close to Court Avenue.

As the sun and humidity rose Thursday, crews in the Howard County town were working inside the large metal culvert that carries several creeks around and under buildings on Main Street.

“What they’re doing is looking to see if tree limbs or any debris has come down and clogged up any of the numerous choke points,” said Robbins, who has now survived Ellicott City floods in 2011, 2016 and 2018.

The canal was well-within its banks along Main Street.

However, at the bottom of Main Street, where the canal enters the Patapsco River, the Patapsco was raging.

Historically, the river posed the main flood risk in Ellicott City, but in the 2016 and 2018 flooding events, the main damage was caused by creeks along Main Street pouring over their banks and washing vehicles down the road.

Robbins said she witnessed the stress reaction to the recent flooding while dining out Wednesday night — and it started to rain.

“The restaurant cleared out instantly,” Robbins said. “It’s just so sad — how is any business supposed to stay in business when every time it rains, people scatter.”


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