Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility5 years later, looking back on the deadly flooding in historic Ellicott City, Maryland | WJLA
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5 years later, looking back on the deadly flooding in historic Ellicott City, Maryland

Ellicott City Flooding (7News){p}{br}{/p}
Ellicott City Flooding (7News)

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It's nearly the five-year anniversary of the last deadly and devastating flood in Ellicott City, Maryland. Howard County and the community have been working hard to mitigate any future flooding and keep residents safe.

Ellicott City is about 250 years old and has seen floods dating back to the late 1700s. In recent years, some of the worst flooding has occurred with two major 1 in 1000-year storms, just two years apart.

The city received more than eight inches of rain in three hours while the surrounding area saw as much as 12 inches. The roughly 4-mile square city built over granite and rivers (The Patapsco, the Hudson, the Tiber and New Cut branches), just couldn't handle the heavy 10 feet of water flowing down Main Street. The water knocked out anything in its path, sweeping away cars and roads.

Water rushed down Main Street on July 30, 2016. The flash flooding coursed through many historic buildings, washing away the town’s iconic clock and ultimately killing two people. Less than two years later, on May 27, 2018, disaster struck again, days before the new flood emergency alert system was to become operational. Homes and businesses were, once again, destroyed and a National Guardsman lost his life trying to rescue others.

READ | National Guardsman found dead in Patapsco River after Ellicott City flood

After considering community feedback, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced his decision on May 13, 2019, to move forward with a five-year, $140 million flood mitigation project for Ellicott City, Maryland.

READ | Ellicott City undergoing restoration project to prevent potential flooding

"Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan which is a multi-faceted comprehensive plan that has numerous projects as well as interventions. So for example, early alert tone systems which have been launched and used three times since 2020. High-ground access signs so people know how to get to high ground in the event of an emergency. We have two major water conveyance projects, and then five major water retention projects. We have already launched two of the water retention projects; Quaker Mill and H-7 Pond. Together, they can retain about seven and a half million gallons of water and we're making significant progress on the rest," said Ball.

Part of the rest will include a massive tunnel 5,300 feet long that will divert flood waters from the west end of Ellicott City through an 18-foot diameter underground to the Patapsco River. When operational, it will have the capacity to carry 26,000 gallons of stormwater per second away from streets and foundations. It will be the largest public works project ever constructed in Howard County.

ALSO READ | After the Ellicott City floods, locals ask 'should I stay or should I go?'

"It's important that not only do we communicate with our business owner, our residents, and our visitors that we are making significant progress. I think when we have these significant rain events, the important thing is to try to cut down on not only the amount of stormwater but also the velocity. And so as we're making these projects and this progress, we are diminishing them and the goal is to make sure that it is something that keeps everyone safe," Ball added.

Ball said flood mitigation has many layers including keeping debris out of the Patapsco River.

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It’s not a question of if, but when there will be another devastating flood event hitting a city somewhere in the United States. Ball said flood mitigation is extremely challenging but necessary to preserve the history of a town.

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