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Ellicott City flood plan includes asking for change in state law

Ellicott City is at the convergence point of multiple waterways, and stream channels run under streets and buildings. (WTOP/John Aaron)

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — Every time it rains, many Ellicott City residents and business owners feel anxious.

The reaction stems from the two devastating floods that hit the historic town in 2016 and 2018. But flood mitigation plans have some breathing easier.

Under the plan unveiled by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, inspections of nine area waterways would occur more frequently. Mark DeLuca, Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Services, would have teams check for debris in those streams, including Tiber Branch, Hudson Branch and New Cut.

“If we find trees that are down that would later result in culverts being blocked by the debris and causing some flooding, that would be eliminated [by the more frequent checks],” said DeLuca.

But another measure will require a change in state law.

“Right now we can’t go on private property without getting permission,” Ball said. “So I think one of the things we want to do is, at the state level, when we have emergency situations, to be able to go on private property.”

Ball also announced that previous negotiations with homeowners and businesses to acquire their properties would continue.

Katie Fry Hester, elected to the Maryland State Senate, says the plans outlined by Ball on Thursday are good news for the community.

“I think people are really glad that the previous agreements are going to be honored-both the businesses and the homeowners in the Valley Mede area” said Fry Hester.

She says several homeowners contacted her saying they were trying to close on new homes, and were concerned their agreement with the county on their old home would fall through.

With Ball’s assurance that the previous agreements would stay in place, Fry Hester said, “I think everyone’s going to be thrilled that this is happening.”


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