A week after a deadly flood swept through the historic district of Ellicott City gutting businesses, flushing cars down Main Street and into the Patapsco River, and tragically, killing two, the disaster continues to be on the minds of many, even those working on opening day of the Howard County Fair.
Early Saturday morning, dozens of Deggeller Attractions staff members readied the midway, concession stands and booths, all wearing "I Love EC" T-shirts to show their support for the hundreds of residents and businesses displaced after the deluge.
"We were in Cecil County doing their fair when the storm came through and we heard about the whole devastation of Ellicott City," said Jim Ingram, of Deggeller Attractions, based in Stuart, Fla. "We wanted to show to the community that we care about what happened to them and that we want to show our support."
Known as America's Spectacular Midway, Deggeller Attractions owns and operates the rides, games and several concessions for the fair, which runs at the county fairgrounds from 8 am. to 11 p.m daily, Aug. 6-13.
Ingram said he knew the company's presence would have to be different this year following the flood. He contacted 98 Rock radio station and purchased about 100 of the "I Love EC" T-shirts.
Printed by SwagDog online apparel and being sold through the radio station, the shirts portray a heart with the Maryland State flag inside. T-shirts cost $10 and all proceeds go to the Ellicott City Partnership, which will be used to assist merchants and residents with flood recovery, the partnership's website states.
Farther down the midway, members of the Glenwood Lions Club cooked hamburgers, chicken tenders and fries inside the club's food stand. Forty-year club member Bob Sharp operated the cash register. Alongside, a gallon bucket that reads "Please donate" was displayed.
Sharp said 100 percent of the funds collected will be sent to the Ellicott City Partnership.
"We've got $60 in there already and we've only been open three hours," he said around 10 a.m. on Saturday. "The idea came from multiple members. We had at least a half a dozen members call us to suggest [we collect for flood victims.] We're a nonprofit — our motto is: 'We serve.'"
The club has participated in the fair since 1950, supporting local 4-H clubs, Boy Scouts and educational programs, Sharp said. The group wanted to extend their help to flood victims.
"It was a different kind of flood. It was a flash flood, where [Hurricane] Agnes was a prolonged flood. This was totally unexpected," Sharp said. "We knew there would be relief organizations on the scene. We're not really equipped to do that, but in the long run, we will probably do a year-long effort to support where we can in all the relief efforts."
Sharp said the Glenwood Lions Club plans to coordinate a grant its parent organization as well as other local lions clubs, including Parkville and Ellicott City.
"We might get several hundred dollars here this week and our club will probably kick in a nice donation as well once we find out what the needs are going to be," Sharp said.