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.”
Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.