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Nonprofit apologizes after relief checks for Ellicott City flood victims bounce

A Howard County nonprofit that distributed checks to help Ellicott City flood victims has apologized after some checks were returned and some recipients were left with bank fees.

Because of a “clerical error,” nine grant checks totaling $33,000 from the Community Foundation of Howard County were returned to people listed as “individuals, heads of household, employees, business owners, residential property and commercial property” owners eligible for funds, said Andrew Aldrich, a spokesman for the foundation.

“The foundation was notified [Friday morning], resolved the issue immediately and contacted affected grant recipients with an apology and offer to reimburse any bank fees incurred,” Aldrich said in an email.

To date, the foundation has received two reimbursement requests totaling $61, which will be paid by their accounting service, according to Aldrich.

Aldrich said this incident will not impact any other initiatives.

Aldrich said the foundation, which established and managed the Community Relief Fund after a major May flood swept through parts of historic Ellicott City, is issuing “replacement checks.”

The foundation and Ellicott City Partnership, a group promoting economic development and historic preservation, announced earlier this month they dispersed nearly $1.1 million in grants to those impacted by the May flood.

The groups collected donations to help fund the program, one of several established after the flooding in May and another in the summer of 2016.

The pool for commercial property owners fell short by $278,750. It is accepting donations through Nov. 30 to mitigate this shortage. Donations received after this date with go to projects unrelated to the flood.

The Community Foundation evolved from Columbia Foundation, an organization founded in 1969 by Columbia developer James Rouse. Its flood-relief program has provided assistance for immediate needs, such as food, clothing and housing, and property cleanup and repair.

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