ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — A week after devastating flash flooding swept through Ellicott City, killing two people and causing millions of dollars in damage, recovery efforts were underway Saturday as residents and business owners try to salvage what’s left.
A State of Emergency declared in the wake of the disaster has been extended until Sept. 7 to help with the extensive cleanup underway, as crews to remove debris, restore utility service and allow residents access to the hardest hit area on Main Street.
As WJZ’s George Solis reports, residents and business owners, many of whom have been cut off from their homes and livelihoods after the flood, have been allowed throughout the week to return to the flood zone to collect what they can carry.
But those visits have been cut short at times due to safety concerns because the storms wiped out parts of sidewalks and roads and the foundations and support beams holding some of the buildings up — proof of just how unstable the area is.
“It’s a disaster, everything is wrecked,” resident Victor Pecheco told WJZ. “…I mean, there’s really no us moving back anytime soon.”
On Sunday, residents and business owners displaced by the Main Street flooding will be allowed to get inside their homes for a cleanup day, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said in a news release.
Between noon and 8 p.m., they’ll be able to return home to remove trash and debris from their properties, but the visits are not intended for retrieval efforts, the release said. The county will be providing dumpsters and trash bags.
In order to access the site, people must obtain credentials from the George Howard Building, located at 3430 Court House Drive, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Residents and business owners will be allowed to bring non-credentialed guests, who will be given one-day access to the site. There is no limit to the number of guests, and insurance adjusters and private contractors are allowed, but guests must stay with credentialed residents and business owners.
If you’re planning to go to the site, you’ll want to bring boots, pants and long sleeved shirts along with work gloves, eye protection and a flashlight if possible.
Some buildings are still at risk of collapse and will likely need to be demolished. Because of the extent of the damage, some residents are doubtful that everyone impacted will be able to rebuild and recover financially.
“In a perfect world, I think we would all love for the buildings to be rebuilt and come back,” one resident told WJZ. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
About 180 cars carried away by floodwaters were towed to nearby Centennial High School, where residents have been invited to pick them up until Sunday. Still, some remain unclaimed — both on land and in the water.
“Unfortunately, we still have about 35 cars in the river and I know there are some people anxious to get those cars,” Kittleman said.
Despite the tragedy, there has been an outpouring of support from across Maryland, including a fundraiser on Saturday at Heavy Seas with the theme “Ellicott City Strong.”