Catonsville chamber mobilizing to raise funds for flood-damaged businesses

The Catonsville Chamber of Commerce is raising money to help Catonsville business owners who were affected by recent flooding through an online portal and by collecting donations at its Frederick Road Fridays event series.

As of June 4, the chamber has collected about $700, according to Executive Director Teal Cary. She said about $400 of that came from online donations and about $300 came from collecting contributions at the opening of Frederick Road Fridays, which started last Friday on June 1 and runs through Aug. 31.

Catonsville and Oella in Baltimore County and Ellicott City in Howard County were devastated by flooding when around 10 inches of rain fell in two hours on Sunday, May 27. Crews from the Baltimore County Fire Department and Department of Public Works have pumped water out of around 400 basements in Baltimore County, and one Catonsville house was deemed “unsafe” and uninhabitable, according to Baltimore County officials. Four roads remain closed: Old Frederick Road, Thistle Road and River Road do not have re-open dates. Westchester Avenue should be open in two weeks, a county spokeswoman said.

As a not-for-profit organization, Cary said, the chamber doesn’t have excess funding that could be tapped into to help its members who suffered flood damage.

“I wish we did,” Cary said. “But we wanted to try to do something.”

“I was surprised that we even got anything so far. Hopefully it will be too many people to thank individually,” Cary said. “Whoever can find it in their hearts to contribute to this, we thank you ahead of time.”

In addition to having collected $700 so far, Cary said at least two businesses have reached out and offered use of extra space to businesses damaged in the flood.

Cary said the number of those affected by the flooding is “still developing” but that the chamber has so far been contacted by five local businesses that could use some assistance.

Those offering space for discounted rates include Revolve Wellness Studio located off Harlem Lane near Route 40, and Ascendant Counseling Services on Edmondson Avenue.

Revolve, which has not yet opened its doors but planned to do so in in mid- or late July, is a studio rental service: fitness instructors, counselors, massage therapists and other professionals who need office or studio space can rent rooms that range from a 110-square-foot “treatment room” to a 1,900-square-foot personal training room with other studios ranging from 600 to 700 square feet.

Revolve’s business model is centered on renting out studio space on an hourly basis with some day-long rooms available, too.

Revolve owner John Corbitt said anyone interested in space can inquire through the website, revolve.net.

He added that none of the available studio spaces had been “locked in” by business owners from Ellicott City and said he had “plenty” of space.

“We’ve lived in Catonsville all my life,” Corbitt said. “Everybody in Catonsville was affected, of course. We know people both in Ellicott City and Catonsville that are going through it. We’ve got this available space,” to offer.

“The space wouldn’t be ideal for retail, but anyone who needs to see clients or lead classes could make use of one of the studio spaces,” Corbitt said.

Annette Levesque-Nieman, co-founder of Ascendant Counseling Services, said her business has “professional, non-medical” space for rent at-cost or at a “slightly discounted rate.” She added that a business renting the office space would also have use of Ascendant’s reception area, wifi network, kitchenette and on-site parking.

“I can put myself in the business owners’ shoes,” Levesque-Nieman said. “ We put a lot of work into this space here … if that got wiped out in an evening [I know] how devastated I would feel.”

The chamber’s board is also working on a fundraiser for residents who were affected by the flooding, Cary said.

Joe Poisal, president of the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce Board, said the details on a fundraiser to help residents is still being developed but would likely be some kind of get-together like a happy hour in July.

“The community really has come together here,” Poisal said. “I just wish we could do this quicker. Sometimes things take a little time.”

All proceeds would go to residents who were flood victims.

County Councilman Tom Quirk, who toured Catonsville and Oella on Memorial Day the day after the flood with other county officials, said he was grateful and appreciative of the chamber’s efforts to offer recovery aid.

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this flooding,” Quirk said.

He added that the county government, including officials from public works, would continue to study ways to mitigate potential flood damage in the future.

“The probability of this happening [again] is pretty small,” Quirk said. “[But] it could happen again — look at Ellicott City.”

Frederick Road Fridays run from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. through Aug. 31 at 15 Mellor Ave. For more information, go to catonsville.org/chamber-events/community-outreach/frederick-road-fridays.

cboteler@baltsun.com

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