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Howard Co. announces latest plans to deal with Ellicott City flooding

A car that was swept into the riverbank rests just off Main Street in flood-ravaged Ellicott City, Md., Monday, May 28, 2018. Howard County will reopen the closed stretch of a road leading to Main Street on Friday. (AP Photo/David McFadden)

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said Wednesday he remains focused on trying to minimize the impact of flooding on Ellicott City, which suffered two devastating floods in just two years.

Ball said he’s been frustrated by the lasting impact of the latest 2018 flood: “Whenever we get any rain, people are afraid to come to Ellicott City.”

Ball said he’s determined to change that.

At a Wednesday morning news conference, Ball announced that flood mitigation plans that could run from $63 million to $175 million. Five options are being considered by the county, and they could take up to seven years to complete.

Ball also announced that $700,000 from the Maryland State Department of Housing and Community Development will provide for cleanup and stabilization projects.

Delegate Courtney Watson also announced the passage of a bill in Annapolis that will bring $3.4 million this year, and possibly more in future years, under a plan that allows jurisdictions affected by floods to apply for flood relief money.

Proposals under Phase Two of the county’s plans for flood mitigation include the demolition of some buildings in historic Ellicott City, among them four buildings on the south side of Main Street. Another option includes the construction of two tunnels.

Mark DeLuca, the deputy director of public works for Howard County, explained that a north tunnel would “take most of the floodwater that occurs during these flash floods, and carry it away before the Hudson has a chance to wind through the town and join up with the Tiber and cause flooding on the street.”

DeLuca said the south tunnel is “still in the concept phase,” but could be located east of the North tunnel, on the south side of the street. From there, it could take on floodwaters from the New Cut Branch and the Tiber Branch: “It would catch a lot of the excess flow that causes the Tiber that causes all of the destruction.”

DeLuca offered one caveat: “These tunnels work best during flash floods,” such as the devastating floods of 2011, 2016 and 2018. The proposed tunnels would not address conditions that affect the Patapsco River; he called that “a totally different kind of flood condition.”

Read details of the flood mitigation plans.

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