It's been over two weeks since our historic town was devastated. My heart still aches. The pain is still raw. The photos and videos are forever etched in my mind.
As I passed the sight of the over 200 cars that were towed from historic Ellicott City to the Centennial High School parking lot, some so badly damaged that only mangled pieces of metal remain, I saw people walking the lot in search of their vehicles. It was a daily reminder of the loss that is still shocking and real.
While our community mourns, I am reminded of the phrase, "To love someone is to learn the song in their heart and sing it to them when they have forgotten it."
The sights and sounds of our beloved historic district attracted people from near and far. The town's soundtrack was unique. It could be heard in a train whistle at The B & O Railroad Museum Ellicott City Station, the shake of a martini mixing at Portalli's, coffee brewing at Bean Hollow, sizzling fajitas at La Palapa, dog barking during The Wine Bin's Yappy Hour, the Bubble Man blowing giant bubbles in the air, the laughter of friendship during Girls Night Out and the pour of a craft beer at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company.
Even in the still of night, if you listened carefully, you could hear the songs of the buildings, streets and even ghosts recounting their stories of America's early days.
Ellicott City's song is not gone. It can be heard in the countless voices who have offered to help rebuild. A reminder that we haven't forgotten what is at the heart of our community. The hashtag #ECStrong embodies this collective spirit of giving.
"We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of offers for assistance – both through donations and people willing to volunteer," said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman in a press release. "We hope to use the talent and energy of as many volunteers as possible as we recover from this devastating storm." The County Executive has been working with local and state elected officials to aid our community.
County Council member Jon Weinstein echoed the county executive in his Facebook post, "Words cannot convey how humbled and amazed I am by all those who have contacted my office asking how they can help those impacted by the flash flood on Main Street on Saturday. Thank you to those who have offered their support for this wonderful and resilient community."
In the wake of the storm, citizens, businesses and organizations were quick to take to the Internet to organize and promote volunteer opportunities.
Former District 1 County Council member Courtney Watson was one of the first citizens to sing the Ellicott City song. She lead an effort to collect flood clean-up supplies. The donated supplies were housed in an EZ Storage unit in Ellicott City and given away for free to affected businesses and residents.
"We love this town and it's going to take all of us working together with a lot of patience and determination to restore Main Street. But, we can, and will, do it," she posted on her Facebook page.
The Bob Lucido Team in partnership with the Community Action Council advertised to the community a "Help Us Fill Our Truck" donation collection held at its Ellicott City office.
At Mt. Hebron High School, the Student Government Association created Hebron Helps, "a fund designed to directly aid our community and neighbors in Ellicott City," wrote Angela Sugg, the SGA Sponsor in an email to the school community. The group plans to collect donations at various functions throughout school year, as well as donate a portion of event ticket sales to the fund.
Ellicott City resident Karen Donegan posted to her friends on Facebook, "I stopped by the Howard County Food Pantry today to donate some items. The lady said they are in need of toiletries — shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers (both child and adult), wipes and feminine supplies. It's located at 8920 Route 108. Please donate if you can."
Shahan Rizvi, Howard County Muslim Council President, responded to Council member requests on how to help historic Ellicott City by emailing donation sites information including the Howard County Food Bank, Red Cross and Preservation Maryland — Help Historic EC Recover From Flood.
Rizvi said in his email, "If you would like the Howard County Muslim Council to pick up supplies from your neighborhood, please contact me. HCMC is ready to serve! Let's serve together and rebuild Historic Ellicott City!"
Yogi Castle Ellicott City reported via Facebook, "WE RAISED $3,575.96 FOR OLD EC
We are the sum of our parts. The flood is just a part of our history. It will not define us. Keep raising your hands to help. Keep sharing the volunteer opportunities. Our shared commitment to heal is what we will remember. We will grower stronger together. We are #ECStrong.