This summer, Howard County is planning to install a very loud alert system to warn people on Main Street in Ellicott City when a dangerous flash flood seems imminent. But the community has its doubts.
After two deadly floods devastated Ellicott City, Maryland, within two years, the historic district will be getting emergency alert sirens.
Howard County’s executive introduced a plan Thursday to try to better protect historic Ellicott City from flooding while still preserving the character of Main Street.
Ellicott City, Maryland, is still reeling from flooding earlier this summer. But for the businesses trying to hang on, Small Business Saturday offered a crucial test ahead of a very uncertain future.
Howard County councilman Jon Weinstein’s presentation to county council regarding the recently announced 5-year Ellicott City Flood Mitigation Plan included a brief history lesson on combination of factors that have made Main Street so susceptible to flooding.
A plan to tear down nearly 20 buildings in Ellicott City to reduce flood severity is not sitting well with the nonprofit group Preservation Maryland.
To reduce the chances of another devastating flood, nearly 20 historic buildings in Ellicott City would be removed in order to widen stream channels and improve water flow. For some, vacating those buildings is “asking a lot.”
Ellicott City’s first official cleanup day on Sunday was interrupted again by rain. Owners and residents are now unsure if they’ll reopen and stay on Main Street, after two floods effectively wiped out their businesses and homes in two years.
Howard County plans to let residents return to the Main Street area on Sunday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., county Executive Allan Kittleman announced.
Howard County officials, county planners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acknowledge the impossibility of eliminating the risk of future flood damage in Historic Ellicott City but think there are somethings they can do to minimize the damage.
After yet another devastating flash flood ripped apart their historic Maryland mill town, hundreds of residents and business owners are again asking themselves: Should I stay or should I go?
“I think a lot of effort should also be put into a very rapid warning system there — more rain gauges, more stream gauges, a smart prediction system that can give a warning based on minutes, with some type of lead time, at least to get people and cars off the street,” said professor Jeffrey Halverson of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, a severe storms meteorologist. His research includes the intensity of hurricanes and also severe storms in the Mid-Atlantic.
Debris has been moved from Main Street, and 188 cars have been recovered, officials announced Tuesday, but potentially complicating these early cleanup efforts: a rainy forecast for the D.C. area.
“In 22 months, we had done a lot of effort to get moving; it’s just that you can’t get that much done in 22 months,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.
The historic flooding in Ellicott City left several families grieving in its wake. Two people were killed the day of the deluge, and a shop owner died a month later while rebuilding. The families of those lost say they’ve relied on faith and the community’s support to help get them through their grief.
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