Ellicott City Main Street reopens, with eye toward rainy skies

The final stretch of Main Street in historic Ellicott City reopens Friday, two months after the second devastating flood in two years. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein )
At Sweet Cascades Chocolatier, T looks forward to Main Street visitors stopping by for dessert after dinner, Friday night. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Michael, at the ClayGround is aware of rain in the forecast, but said business owners always face risks. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
With the final stretch of Main Street reopening, larger crowds are expected, prompting the return of trash cans to the historic town’s main shopping stretch. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — As more than a week of rain approaches, Ellicott City reaches an important milestone in its recovery from two “1,000 year floods” in the past two years.

The final stretch of Main Street in the town’s historic district opens to two-way traffic at 5 p.m. Friday after being closed for nearly two months.

“It’s very symbolic, it means we’re on the road again,” said Cindi Ryland, of Retropolitan at Taylor’s Collective, located on Main Street. “The road to recovery.”

However, weather forecasters expect rain in the region to begin Saturday, and continue off-and-on for the next week to 10 days.

Store owners and residents are aware of the prediction of rain, but are soaking in the excitement of the Friday sunshine.

A few doors up, T at Sweet Cascades Chocolatier called the reopening “kind of a new chapter — a new beginning, hopefully.”

On May 27, Main Street was devastated by flash flooding, as it continued to recover from floods in 2016.

Friday evening, for the first time since the 2018 flood, cars and people will be allowed to travel in both directions on the most severely damaged stretch of Main Street.

T, readying polished cases of chocolate, said weekends are special in Ellicott City.

“Yappy Hour, up at the Wine Bin, restaurants are hopping, Pure Wine has the deck, and it’s always full. Manor Hill crowd comes down our way, as well, for a little dessert.”

At the ClayGround, Michael Koplow, said in the wake of the damaging flooding in the historic mill town: “The weather forecast is something a lot of people have been paying attention to for clearly two years.”

Ryland agreed.

“We all watch the weather. We all watch the rain as it accumulates on the road,” she said, standing in her spotless shop featuring antiques and art.

Koplow said shop owners who are reopening have made the decision to weather the risk.

“When you’re in business, there are a lot of things that are going to go on,” Koplow said. “Some of the things you have control over, some things you don’t have control over — you do what you can.”

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Neal Augenstein

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.

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