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Howard County Council extends state of emergency in Ellicott City to Sept. 7

The Howard County Council extended a state of emergency Friday to Sept. 7 after Saturday's deadly flood swept through old Ellicott City last weekend, leaving two dead and displacing dozens of residents and gutting businesses.

The move extends a state of emergency Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman instituted late Saturday. By law, the state of emergency allows the Kittleman administration to control traffic, vehicles and public transportation, as well as limited access to public roads and the occupancy of buildings and can include imposing a curfew.

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The county voted this morning to extend the state of emergency until Sept. 7, although the county executive can lift it earlier if he chooses to.

On Saturday, nearly two months worth of rainfall fell within two hours, causing the Patapsco River to rise and overwhelm the Tiber and Hudson rivers, said Ryan Miller, director of the county's Office of Emergency Management.

More than 30 vehicles remain submerged in the Patapsco River. Some are buried under piles of debris.

"There have been and continue to be no additional reports of missing persons," Miller said. "Because these piles are so large, we can't rule out there are no missing people."

Crews surveyed the structure of all buildings on Main Street, including a "dangerous" area that is restricted as state and local officials determine how to demolish two buildings that may collapse, Miller said.

Miller said the impending collapse is "an extremely complex situation" because a collapse could cause additional flooding if debris falls into river below the buildings. Engineers are determining the best method to secure the area, Miller said.

Crews continue to search numerous debris piles, including some that are very large, Miller said.

Ninety businesses and 190 residents were directly impacted by the "unimaginable" flood, Miller said.

Crews have removed 240 vehicles to Centennial High School in Ellicott City. State police officers continue to assist with securing the areas.

Councilman Jon Weinstein, who represents Ellicott City, said he looks forward to the "rebirth of the best downtowns in Maryland and in this country."

"It's not a question 'if' we're going to be rebuilding. It's simply a matter of how we're going to build," Weinstein said.

Miller said the county is working on a recovery plan to rebuild the town, a process that "could take months."

"We want Ellicott City to be a model for disaster resiliency," Miller said.

The Ellicott City Partnership, a nonprofit that manages Main Street, also asked the council to become the central nonprofit to manage rebuilding, Tom Coale said on behalf of the partnership.

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"We will be here when Ellicott City is no longer on the front page of the news," said Coale, the partnership's vice chairman.

The council will work with the partnership to determine how to rebuild.

The council also passed a measure Friday to require the Kittleman administration to submit a progress on the recovery efforts on or before Aug. 27.

This story has been updated.

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