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Ellicott City Strong

"We Are Ellicott City!"

Sunday morning, less than 24 hours into a long-awaited trip, I awoke to see my phone was overrun with texts and voice mails. An unimaginable disaster had struck Ellicott City just a couple hours earlier. I watched the videos and read the fresh accounts of the horror in shock and disbelief. I was overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness from being thousands of miles away and six hours ahead.

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My emotions were compounded by the simple fact that the historic district is not just an area I represent, but an essential and near daily part of my life.

The town is the main reason why I moved just a bit more than a mile up from Main Street.

Most important, the historic district, from the river to the West End is filled with friends — shop and restaurant owners, residents, property owners and other "Main Street" regulars.

My "second office" is there at Bean Hollow, usually the table next to the coffee roaster — a spot I really love on Thursday mornings in the winter when Gretchen fires up the roaster. Just thinking about what my friends have lost, how the historic district will not be the same, is truly hard to comprehend.

And then... I start to remember the passion and unbounded energy the people of the historic district has for this community. I remember there is a reason why the New York Times, The Washington Post, Southern Living magazine, to name just a few, have featured the historic district.

There's a reason why our restaurants and unique businesses and business owners have been recognized for their excellence in their respective industries and for what they give back to the historic district and Howard County. This is Ellicott City!

Of course the buildings and history are important, but these aspects are simply the physical and temporal context for what is great about our community, its people and their passions. The true essence of Ellicott City is where we will draw the strength and endurance needed for a new city to arise from the devastation we see today and heartbreak we will always feel.

Our goal as a community must be to look back years from now to talk about how we pulled together to achieve something unimaginable today, just days after the devastation. To realize this goal will require the combined commitment, resources, and active participation of the county, state and federal government, local businesses and the greater private sector, non-profits, and individuals across the county. Our shared vision of a renewed and rebuilt historic district must embrace and celebrate its rich history while reflecting the promise of the future.

I have been working with County Executive Kittleman nearly nonstop since our first conversation in the hours following the flood. I am strengthened by the response from my partners in the county government and my colleagues on the council. I am encouraged by my conversations with our state and federal representatives and have implored each to move as fast as possible to secure the critical and long-term resources Historic Ellicott City needs.

As the days, weeks, and months go by, our community must work together and keep our minds and efforts focused on realizing the vision of a town reborn. To everyone who lives, works, and plays in one of the best towns in America, always remember: We are Ellicott City. #ECStrong

Jon Weinstein is a Democrat on the Howard County Council representing District 1, which includes Ellicott City, Columbia. Elkridge and Hanover.

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