The Chatter

Ellicott City Reliving a Nightmare Following Memorial Day Weekend Flood

Governor Larry Hogan declares state of emergency as business owners ponder the future.

Less than two years ago, Ellicott Mills Brewing owner Timmy Kendzierski created a GoFundMe page to help his employees get back on their feet after a devastating flood in Ellicott City. Yesterday, he found himself doing the very same thing.

“I simply have no words right now,” he posted to Facebook. “I am concerned for the families affected and have a lot of work and considerations to make. Right now all I need is support and a lending hand to get through this.”

The National Weather Service estimated that 8.4 inches of rain fell in Ellicott City in less than three hours on Sunday. The gauges in the July 2016 storm captured 8.22 inches. Water rose to the second floor of places like The Phoenix Emporium, decimated businesses including Tea on the Tiber, and many people were forced to move to higher ground.

“We noticed the water pounding outside and we knew there was some rain in the forecast, but this amount was not expected,” says Mt. Vernon resident Dan Driscoll, who grabbed a late lunch at The Judge’s Bench and moved to higher ground on the second floor of The Wine Bin across the street. “We were very appreciative of the EMT workers and fire department for their assistance from the very start and are thinking of the people of Ellicott City.”

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As we reported last year, many Ellicott City businesses rebounded from the 2016 flood. Out of the nearly 150 businesses and services in the neighborhood’s historic district before the flood, a mere 19 decided not to return. A recent study estimated that the downtown area contributes nearly $200 million to Howard County’s economy.

“I have a lot to think about and consider,” Kendzierski wrote. “Please pray for my family and my brewery family and all the residents and business affected.”

Geography, of course, does not do the town any favors. Ellicott City’s Main Street acts as a funnel with substantial streams—the Hudson, the Tiber, and the New Cut—converging and running underneath buildings before entering into the Patapsco River.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who visited Ellicott City yesterday with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, declared a state of emergency on the town. As of Monday evening, National Guardsman Eddison “Eddie” Hermond was still reported missing after trying to help a neighbor rescue her cat.

“This is a great community and a great country,” Main Street Oriental Rugs owner Mojan Bagha told The Washington Post. “Like a phoenix, it will rise from the ashes. Let’s be positive. Let’s think how we can rebuild.”

Already, several area businesses have planned fundraisers to aid in rebuilding relief, including Hysteria Brewing in Columbia earlier today and Fells Point Tavern, which is a hosting an event this Thursday.

Of course, many in Ellicott City are wondering about future flooding. Following the 2016 storm, engineering firm McCormick Taylor compiled a Hydrology and Hydraulics Study of the town, advising the installation of several storm water retention ponds, among other recommendations. But the inevitable conclusion was that, even with the modifications in place, nature could still take its course.

Kendzierski of Ellicott Mills Brewing Company shares that events like this put things into perspective.

“I am uncertain at this time where the state and county will take us from here,” he says. “Immediately, I have to take care of priority one: my family.”