ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Eight days ago, the quaint streets of Ellicott City were ravaged by flash flooding that claimed two lives and washed away people’s livelihoods.
Access to the hardest hit area, Main Street, has been limited since then as crews and authorities work to remove debris and survey the damage left behind — buckled roads, splintered sidewalks buildings on the verge of collapse.
On Sunday, though, for the first time residents and business owners were allowed to return to the site long enough to clean up and get a better idea of what needs to be done to rebuild and start over. As WJZ’s Amy Yensi reports, there were plenty of friends and volunteers on hand to help them do just that.
Jewelry store owner Sam Coyne told WJZ he’s been anxious to return because he’s only been able to get glimpses of the aftermath since the flooding. “Up to this point, I’ve only been allowed three 10-minute visits to my property,” Coyne said.
Throughout the week, business owners were only allowed temporary visits to collect belongings and clear debris from their mud-drenched buildings. Sunday’s cleanup effort marked the first time they could spend hours tidying up with loved ones, insurance adjusters and contractors along to join them. Droves of volunteers also turned out to help.
“I’m a college student so I can’t, you know, give thousands of dollars like I’d want to. The next best thing is to donate my time,” said volunteer Claudia Fochios.
A State of Emergency declared for Howard County has been extended until Sept. 7 to allow officials and those who live and work in Ellicott City to figure out how best to move forward and recover what they have lost. Some buildings, particularly those that sustained damage to their foundations, pose a hazard and will likely need to be demolished.
The devastation was a tough sight for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro, an Ellicott City native. “It’s incredible to see all the small businesses where they’re at, looking inside and everything is flipped upside down,” he said.
The task that lies ahead won’t be short of challenges, officials acknowledged, but the city’s residents and businesses are resilient and continue to make strides.
“They’re shoveling out a lot of mud, a lot of dirt and making a big difference,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.
Many business owners are just focused on the future and how to get there.
“Right now, it’s not ‘What’s salvageable?’ but ‘What we we going to do, and how do we get stuff out to do the next thing?'” said business owner Matthew Milani.
On Monday, residents, business and property owners displaced by the flooding will be allowed to return to the site once more for cleanup efforts between noon and 7:30 p.m. Credentialing will begin at 8 a.m. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located at 3695 Rogers Avenue.
While the majority of vehicles swept away from Main Street have been claimed from the Centennial High School parking lot, there are some remaining. If they’re not claimed by the day’s end, they’ll be towed at the owner’s expense.
In light of the disaster, the Howard County Office of Workforce Development will hold a job fair between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8 at the Disaster Assistance Center, located at 9401 Frederick Road.
To learned more on how you can help the Ellicott City flood victims, CLICK HERE.