When the basement of the Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. flooded on Wednesday, Sept. 7, along with the basements of most other businesses along Main Street in historic Ellicott City, staff used industrial pumps to get the water out, and worked 12 hours straight to clean and sanitize the place.
The brewery had to throw away a bunch of food, but was open for business the very next day.
"We felt pretty lucky," said Tim Kendzierski, one of the brewery's operating partners.
Walking around town, though, Kendzierski had another thought, he said.
"Your immediate reaction is fixing your place, but when your place is fixed, and the people you see every day are outside throwing out their furniture and they have contractors trying to shore up their walls and stuff, your heart goes out to them," he said.
Seeing the damage all around him, Kendzierski and other members of the close-knit Ellicott City community began brainstorming ways to raise money for their neighbors who'd been hit the hardest.
One result is that the Brewing Co.'s fourth annual Maryland crab soup competition, already planned for Sunday, Sept. 18, is now part fundraiser as well.
As an estimated 20 contestants vie for the title of top soup, there will also be raffles and a collection for flood victims, Kendzierski said.
For the rest of September, one dollar from every Kolsch beer – renamed Muddy Waters – and every dinner special sold at the brewery will go toward the collection fund as well, Kendzierski said.
Everyone is invited, and Kendzierski said he expects a full house of supporters. The money raised will likely be divided among flood victims along Main Street and in the town's west end residential neighborhood, he said.
"People's lives were affected in a strong way, and hopefully this'll help us raise awareness," he said. "It's not charity. It's community."
The event is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Ellicott Mills Brewing Co., 8308 Main Street in Ellicott City.