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Howard County Times
Howard County

Kittleman: 'Too early' to estimate when Ellicott City will reopen

Ellicott City's iconic clock was returned Wednesday to its spot on Main Street, symbolizing what Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said was the revival of a town swept into ruin after a deadly flood on Saturday.

"This is a symbol of Ellicott City," Kittleman said. "We've been telling folks Ellicott City is going to be rebuilt stronger than ever. The people are not going to let the storm defeat us."

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For now, the clock's hands stand still at 9:20 p.m., likely the time it was uprooted from its home, and it will be Ellicott City residents who decide how long it remains frozen at that time, Kittleman said.

On Wednesday morning, Kittleman said it was too early to tell when Main Street will reopen as state and local crews continue working to stabilize the area.

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"I don't think there's any firm estimate or even an estimate," Kittleman said. "It's going to be a long time before this place is going to be a thoroughfare between Baltimore and Howard County."

Robert Frances, the director of the county's Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits, said it would take several months to rebuild the town. Eight buildings in historic Ellicott City have major structural concerns.

On Wednesday afternoon officials suspended access to Main Street because two units in the 8100 block — including the one that housed the Joan Eve antique shop — are in danger of collapsing and could impact neighboring structures, according to county spokesman Andy Barth.

Since Sunday, crews have moved debris and cleared mud off the streets. A destroyed red car, wedged for days on Hamilton Street, was removed. An "open" sign hangs precariously from what was the entrance of Park Ridge Trading Co., a specialty foods store that just opened in mid-July.

Kittleman said it was possible some historic structures will be torn down, while others that will be saved may look very different.

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Sewage lines under buildings on the uphill area of Main Street are "washed out" and pose environmental hazards, Frances said.

The devastation will prompt policy changes to control stormwater in the historic district, Kittleman said.

"Now we are certainly going to be able to do some things more quickly than we were before because of, unfortunately, the way things ... have happened," Kittleman said. "You're never going to be able to stop a thousand-year flood from doing tremendous damage."

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George Maisonet, a firefighter with the county, said he was shocked to see the extent of the damage. Maisonet searched the area's riverbanks for people in distress at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, after the flooding.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Maisonet said.

Kittleman said residents and business owners should remain patient as crews continue to clean up.

"A lot of times, we think about the buildings that have been destroyed here or the problems that we have with the infrastructure," Kittleman said. "There are a lot of human needs that we have to meet."


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