Donations quickly began piling up Monday for victims of the devastating flooding that struck Old Ellicott City the night before.
Within 40 minutes of opening its doors, the Howard County Food Bank had collected 4,500 pounds of food and supplies.
Aid poured in from all over the region. Ryan Miller woke up Monday morning in Hagerstown, saw the news and drove an hour to bring bottled water. Another couple saw the news as they were driving from Virginia and stopped to buy supplies to donate.
“That could have been me,” Miller said. “Every little bit helps.”
Former Howard County Councilwoman Courtney Watson and her siblings were among volunteers Monday morning collecting the donations, along with Councilman Calvin Ball and Margaret Weinstein, wife of Councilman Jon Weinstein of Ellicott City.
After the 2016 flood, Watson collected donations out of her garage. This time, she and others worked with the Community Action Council, which runs the food bank, to organize donations.
Lori McDermott, who owns Southwest Connections on Ellicott City’s Main Street, came with her daughter Kylie to volunteer.
On Sunday, Kylie and McDermott’s husband Steve waited for hours on the second floor in a vacant apartment above the shop to be rescued from the rising waters. On Monday, she and her mother were at the center to help others. The two have been regularly volunteering at the food bank ever since the 2016 flood.
“I can’t believe this is happening to us again and we don’t understand why,” Lori McDermott said. “We all picked back up. It took every ounce of strength, every ounce financially for all of our stores to come back — and now we all are worse off, we have nothing, there’s just nothing left.”
McDermott, who moved her shop from one spot on Main Street to another after the last flood in an attempt to better protect it, said she’s not sure she’ll come back again.
“Everyone here was just so wonderful in helping us to get back on our feet at the time,” she said. “So now we’re here this morning just to try to put a face to what’s happening in Ellicott City and to thank the volunteers and the people who are showing up with supplies, just how grateful we are.”
Many families came with children in tow to help out.
Megan Mason brought her 8-year-old son Zachary to the food bank to donate cleaning supplies and water. They live three miles from Ellicott City’s Main Street.
“We love Old Ellicott City and I think that this is a teaching moment for my kids. You feel bad about what happened but then you get up the next day and you actually do something about it,” Mason said.
Laura Starita brought supplies, too.
“There’s a sense of helplessness that it happened again so soon. So the small things we all take for granted, like clean underwear and water, we can all help,” she said.
The food bank is asking for donations of rubber gloves, work gloves, paper towels, rags, Clorox, disposable coveralls, peanut butter, cereal, canned foods and heavy duty black trash bags.
Donations can be dropped off at the food bank at 9385 Gerwig Lane, Suite J, in Columbia.