But residents put their personal losses in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Long-term plan, short-term needs

While the flooding was surprising, it was not unprecedented. Various areas of the county are prone to flooding, and the county received federal funding in 2008 to create a Flood Mitigation Plan (FMP), which was just adopted by the County Council on Aug. 1.

According to Angela Morales, environmental planner with the Department of Public Works, the plan is updated every six months and looks at ways to prevent flooding in the county. Its creation also helped make county residents eligible for a 10 percent discount on flood insurance by improving the county's federal preparedness rating to an 8 out of 10, she said.


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The plan addresses a variety of factors — like development control, storm water management and dumping regulations — that residents said they are concerned about. During each six-month phase, the county will seek to address concerns raised in the plan, Morales said.

Residents in Ellicott City's west end said improvements are definitely needed.

"That stream has not been cleaned out since probably 1999," Carter said. "They keep building and building and building, and there's nowhere for this water to go."

Right now, though, they just want the junk that's been on the street for days cleared.

"It stinks," said resident Kathy Wine. "Cars are going up and down the road. Dust is blowing. I'm sure it's unhealthy to be breathing in that stuff."

"It's just a basic response to a disaster in a county," Durantaye said.

Enright said the county worked quickly to determine trash collection and landfill exceptions for flood victims, and then distribute handouts with that information to businesses and residents. The time frame for distribution and pickup of the bagsters was based on the thought that some people will need more time to fill the bags, he said.

Crews from various county agencies have been working since the flooding to help residents with flood-related needs, including tree removals and assessments of structural damage on private properties — things the county isn't generally responsible for, Enright said.

"We certainly sympathize with the areas that were hardest hit, and we're farther away from the storm that we now have some of the resources that we may not have had day one or day two," he said.

"If there are things that we've missed that we could help out with, if you contact us, there's a chance that we can come out."

Community vs. county

On Monday, Durantaye's neighbors Colin and Michele Bickley were still airing out the basement of their newly renovated 1891 home. Colin was repairing a fence in the backyard, and Michele was drying old yearbooks and journals on their porch.

The couple and their two-year-old daughter Kianna just moved into the house two weeks ago, from Los Angeles, in part to "settle down and have a slower lifestyle," said Michele, who is eight-months pregnant with a son.

Their Realtor, title company, insurance provider and the home's previous owner all said there was no need for them to get flood insurance, despite the stream at the far edge of the backyard.

A week later the water came, filling their basement and submerging countless boxes of unpacked photo albums, clothes and electronics. It almost carried the family jeep downstream. And it left a swirling, 10-foot sinkhole in the backyard, which they've since filled with $500 worth of dirt.

"I pulled my wedding dress out of mud," Bickley said.

The family had to be rescued from their home by a swift-water team.

Since then, the outpouring of support from the community has been amazing, they said.

One new neighbor brought over a dinner of homemade ribs. Friends lent vehicles, strangers provided manpower. Everyone pitched in — except the county, they said.

Other than the rescue team, which they greatly appreciate, the county hasn't provided any support, the couple said. They were even turned away at the landfill because their cars still have California tags.

"The response is night and day," said Michele Bickley, comparing the kindness of her new neighbors to the lack of county support. "It's polar opposites. It's kind of disgusting.

"It just feels like you're kind of isolated and on your own," she said. "I'm not trying to be a victim at all, and I don't want to be. But it's not right."

Enright said the county's Office of Emergency Management was the first county office in the state to request a FEMA assessment of the flooded areas, and that FEMA officials will be in Ellicott City completing those assessments on Thursday, Sept. 15.

He said the damage reports will help determine whether Howard County is eligible for disaster assistance programs.

Residents can submit reports of damage to their homes or businesses, excluding basement damage, to damagereports@howardcountymd.gov.