Photo Courtesy of Baltimore Magazine
June 7, 2018
On Sunday, May 27, Maryland and Virginia suffered a historically terrible amount of rain, with Old Ellicott City, Maryland receiving over 10 inches in less than an hour. The rain collected rapidly, overflowing lakes and rivers including Lake Kittamaqundi and the Patapsco River. Highways, such as Route 40 and Route 29, also flooded, forcing the highways to close.
The torrential downpour found Old Ellicott City underwater as water rushed through the roads at dangerous speeds. However, the scene was not unfamiliar to residents and storeowners.
Two years prior on July 30, 2016, a similar flood broke through the city, crashing through windows, tearing through buildings, and killing two people. Relief efforts were soon organized to clean up Main Street and reopen the devastated businesses.
Shops and restaurants, old and new, opened months later, some opening more than a year after the flood. The flood in 2016 was predicted to be a once in 1000 year occurrence. Unfortunately, the 2018 flood occured 998 years early. Businesses and homes were once again ripped apart.
Quickly after the flood, community members and business owners in the area set up relief programs. These programs are aimed to help Old Ellicott City clean up the wreckage and eventually rebuild and reopen businesses and homes. However, the main goal at the moment is to clean up the city and make sure each of the buildings is structurally safe.
One of the primary donation drives for Old Ellicott City was spread through Facebook groups and text messages. “The Community Action Council, which is the organization in Howard County that [has] a food bank to help those in need in our community, has become the designated donation [site] for the flood recovery,” said Leadership Howard County official, Stacie Hunt. Currently, they are taking donations of non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and water at their facility on 9385 Gerwig Lane, Columbia, MD, 21046. The supplies will be used in the homes and businesses in the area that were greatly affected by the flood. The donation drive opened on Monday, May 28, collecting over 50,000 pounds of food on the first day, and will continue to be open for donations.
Other businesses in the Columbia area have begun collecting donations and donating their own profits and supplies to the relief effort in Old Ellicott City. Stacie Hunt added, “Target, Staples, Walmart, Wegmans, Giant are all helping out with large pallets of water… and helping with logistics too.” Additionally, businesses like Athleta at the Columbia Mall have been collecting donations and then giving donors coupons or gift certificates to their store.
Schools have also become involved in the relief efforts from shirt drives to donation boxes. Atholton’s Feed the Future teamed up with many other clubs at Atholton to collect supplies to donate to those affected by the flooding and helping with the clean up.
Howard County art teacher Ms. Avery McClelland started a shirt drive after the 2016 flood, designing and selling “EC Strong” shirts and donating the profits to Old Ellicott City. She was inspired to utilize her art abilities to help after hearing about the flood, devastated that her favorite childhood hangout spot and location of her engagement photos was gone. She began the drive again last week after her beloved city was once again torn apart by flood waters. Her initial drive in 2016 raised over $10,000. This year, over $10,000 has been raised and McClelland is still receiving orders. She hopes that the money goes, “To pay for materials needed to clean up the town, to pay for businesses and residents to rebuild. To help people who are out of work due to this disaster.”
Manor Hill Tavern, a restaurant located on Main Street in Old Ellicott City has opened its doors to those working on the rebuilding. On their Facebook page, the restaurant announced, “Manor Hill Tavern will be open from 12PM to 5PM to provide bathrooms, air conditioning, charging stations, cold water, and free lunches (from a limited menu) to the business owners, neighbors, first responders, volunteers, and any other individuals working to bring back Old Ellicott City.” The restaurant expressed that although they look to reopen much later, opening the doors to those who are in need is the best way that the restaurant can help the community.
Even though rebuilding and reopening are not the priority, some businesses have made decisions on whether they will reopen. The owner of Bean Hollow, a renowned coffee shop at the bottom of Main Street, posted on their Facebook page, “…we cannot in good conscience reopen in E.C. We will reopen in Catonsville where I grew up, God willing.” However, Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant does plan on rebuilding in Old Ellicott City. After sharing a Baltimore Sun article titled “Ellicott City: Md.’s neglected ‘secret treasure’”, the famous restaurant added that they are rebuilding because many locals have had memories that have lasted a lifetime in the restaurant.
Even after the second tragic flood in less than two years that threatened to wipe out Old Ellicott City forever, community members have rapidly assembled relief programs to aid those affected by the flood and those assisting in rebuilding the small historic city. Without these relief programs from the community, the city and history would be gone forever.
For up to date information about relief efforts and how to get involved, follow the Patapsco Facebook page linked below.