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Howard County officials answer questions, update flood victims on recovery efforts

Wendy Sollohub’s wedding dress was lost in Sunday’s flood, along with everything else in the basement of the rowhome on Main Street that she shared with her husband, Eric.

It was their first flood — they’d only recently moved to Ellicott City from Locust Point in Baltimore.

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“We’re all just trying to figure out what we do for a flood,” said Wendy. “Where do we move?”

The couple sat along with many of their Ellicott City neighbors in an auditorium at Howard High School on Wednesday evening with plenty of questions. Howard County officials did their best to provide answers at an information session for residents and business owners affected by the flood.

The forum was introduced by County Executive Allan Kittleman along with Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, who offered prayers for Sgt. Eddison “Eddie” A. Hermond, the National Guardsman who died in the flooding.

“It rips your heart out,” Cardin said of the flooding.

“I know that this community is gonna pull together once again,” said Van Hollen.

Kittleman told residents it appeared that utilities were not hit as badly as they were in the 2016 flood, and that 92 percent of gas had been restored by BGE.

Jackie Scott, director of the department of community resources and services, told attendees about local and state agencies and nonprofits available at the newly created Disaster Assistance Center (DAC), which opened this week at the Ellicott City 50+ Center.

County officials told the crowd that no thefts had been reported following the flood, and that 198 vehicles had been removed.

Meanwhile, reconstruction has already begun at the Ellicott City Visitors Center, said Jim Irvin, director of public works, who gave updates on recovery efforts.

Before the session even began, Ellicott City residents and business owners argued on Facebook about the causes of flood damage and next steps to take. Some suggested that Kittleman needed to address plans for future floods immediately. But those plans will take time to implement, said others. And what are they supposed to do in the meantime?

The Sollohubs are staying with friends now and estimate they’d lost thousands of dollars in their basement — but were grateful to have their cat and each other intact.

“The paper and the physical stuff, it hurts,” said Eric Sollohub. “I’d rather have this,” he said, holding onto his wife’s arm.

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