ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — The flash flooding that hit historic Ellicott City this weekend took a matter of minutes, but the rebuilding could take months, if not, years.
A whole month’s worth of rain fell in just two hours, damaging or destroying dozens of businesses, homes, and to some degree, spirits. Two people lost their lives in the devastation.READ MORE: Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump Joins Lawsuit Against Baltimore City Public Schools
“After it threw me under a couple times, I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it out at all,” said Darren Easton, whose car was swept away in the flooding.
Now, nearly 72-hours into recovery after the historic flash flood, damage assessment is well underway.
“The entire country is watching Ellicott City and what happened here. This is Main Street, America,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, (D) Maryland. “And it is absolutely tragic when you see the damage that’s been done.”
Howard County Director of Emergency Management Ryan Miller tells WJZ that FEMA is surveying damage that could be in the tens of millions of dollars.
“In total, it’s about 150 individual units. It’s pretty tedious. If you’ve been through Ellicott City, every building is unique and different,” said Miller.
Darren Easton was swept away with his car for about three or four blocks. He explains those moments not knowing what would happen next.
“Figured it was plenty of time. And in a matter of seconds as we were trying to get in, it just rose up and took the car and I was a hold of the door handle and it took us both and I just held on all the way down,” said Darren Easton.
Easton’s car was one of hundreds of vehicles towed to Centennial High School by the county. Some are still driveable, while others are a total loss.
Katie St. Johns is one of many residents displaced by the flooding. Her home is now temporarily condemned.READ MORE: Maryland Governor Endorses Thiru Vignarajah's Campaign For Baltimore City State's Attorney
“We’re staying with friends who live up Church Road, a little bit higher ground, who were luckily not touched by the flood as badly,” St. Johns said. “They had a little bit of flooding. But they’re safe, and so we’re in a safe space and now just trying to help everybody who we can that needs help.”
“That’s the beauty of this community… everybody is pitching in,” she added.
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman says residents will be able to access their homes between 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. They should meet at Saint Peters Episcopal Church at 3695 Rogers Avenue to register to be escorted to their homes.
“I know this has been difficult and we have been working hard to allow folks to return to their homes for essential possessions,” Kittleman said. “These people have already experienced tremendous loss. We need to help them recover but it requires small steps. There is still a lot to stabilize and restore before a full recovery and clean up can begin. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation so far and everyone’s patience in this process.”
On Tuesday, business woners were taken down to the flood zone so that they could get some of their belongings. The extent of the damage is now sinking in.
“Words can’t describe it. Until you see it firsthand, and see the buildings that just had their entire foundation washed away, people’s livelihoods that are completely washed away, it’s unbelievable,” said Home Depot Steven Galliard, Home Depot store manager.
Red Cross officials are also aiding in recovery, urging patience.
“If they had a crowd of people down there at the same time all this is happening, it couldn’t happen as well and as fast as it is happening,” one Red Cross official said.
The county executive promises the city will come back stronger than ever.
“We are going to survive, and that kind of will power has been a testament to the whole world that Ellicott City is one of the greatest places in the world,” Kittleman said.
Residents may only retrieve items Wednesday that can be easily transported in a container no larger than 18″ high, 18″ wide and 24″ long. Each will be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes of access.
When coming to the site, residents need to:
- Wear solid, closed toe footwear, preferably an over the ankle work boot or hiking boot.
- Wear long pants and are encouraged to wear a long sleeved shirt.
- Consider bringing work gloves and eye protection.
- Bring a flashlight due to the current power outage.
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For more information, CLICK HERE or call 410-313-2900.