Vote due on historic Ellicott City flood control plan

WASHINGTON — After two devastating floods in two years, a Monday vote could allocate $17 million toward preventing future tragedies in historic Ellicott City, Maryland.

The Howard County Council is scheduled to vote on a bill Monday night — part of a $50 million, five-year-plan that includes purchasing and razing 19 buildings, in hopes of taming flood waters that have increased after recent storm events.

The controversial plan is advocated by County Executive Allan Kittleman and Ellicott City’s representative on the council, Jon Weinstein.

Under the plan the county would buy 19 buildings — 10 in the most flood-prone area, along Main Street. The buildings would be demolished, and replaced by open spaces, and a wider, deeper channel that carries ran waters through the town.

During floods in 2016 and May, 2018, water rushing down Main Street overwhelmed culverts intended to harness the streams and creeks that flow downhill in Ellicott City, toward the Patapsco River.

Last week, a poll conducted for advocacy group Preservation Maryland showed 74 percent of those asked would support plans that don’t require tearing down buildings.

Kittleman and Weinstein dismissed the importance of the study, in a statement: “It is hard to take seriously a five-minute poll that tried to explain years of study, analysis and dozens of scenarios that were considered.”

“Our mission first and foremost is to protect lives,” continued the statement. “Based on the best meteorological guidance, time is is not on our side.”

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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