May 27, 2018 and July 30, 2016 will be forever etched in our minds as our beloved Historic Ellicott City was devastated twice by raging flash floods.
Our hearts break for our friends and neighbors who have again had their lives turned upside down. Each night as we walk Main Street and its West End, we do our best to reassure residents, businesses and property owners that we will do whatever we can to support them.
Our town will never be the same again, but it will come back stronger, smarter and safer.
In the aftermath of the second deadly flood in just 22 months, some have asked whether we will rebuild the town. Others worry we will turn our backs on nearly 250 years of history.
For the residents of Ellicott City, Howard County and beyond, we state unequivocally we will not abandon our historic town. We will rebuild – differently this time, as experience tells us we must proceed with a transformative vision.
After the 2016 flood, we spent hundreds of hours engaging business and property owners, residents, experts and other stakeholders to determine how to rebuild the town. Many projects have been completed and others were in the pipeline. Ellicott City is prone to major flooding and has endured 16 recorded floods during its history. Completing the design and engineering of large-scale stormwater management projects and securing the funding can take years. Since the July 2016 flood, the county has spent $10.5 million on Ellicott City flood mitigation and secured another $3.5 million from state and federal sources.
The May 27 flood has dramatically changed the conversation. Residents and business owners are suggesting options they were not ready to consider after the 2016 flood. We will build on their ideas, use information we have gathered and the science of our hydrology and hydraulic study, and work with stakeholders to move boldly ahead. We promise to make smart choices, look for financially responsible strategies and pursue every option available to secure funding.
Since the flood, we have been inspired by the outpouring of love and support from near and far, including a card from a 4-year-old in Falmouth, Mass., and drawings from an elementary school class in Arbutus, Md.
For the encouragement, donations, thoughts and prayers, we are eternally grateful. For the unflinching support of Governor Larry Hogan, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Elijah Cummings and the many state agencies and nonprofits assisting with our recovery, we offer our sincere thanks.
We will save Historic Ellicott City through a plan that is bold, innovative and transformative. Let us stand together again to rebuild our town. We will preserve Old EC — to be even stronger, smarter and safer.
Allan H. Kittleman is the county executive for Howard County and Jon Weinstein in a member of the Howard County Council representing Ellicott City.