Ellicott City was devastated by a massive storm Sunday, just two years after a flash flood forced the historic city in Howard County to rebuild much of its Main Street.
An emergency was issued in Ellicott City in Howard County at 4:40 p.m
“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC situation and you must move to HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY AND STAY AWAY FROM ANYWHERE WHERE WATER IS MOVING,” the National Weather Service tweeted.
Fast-moving, brown water rushed through the city’s Main Street, nearly reaching the top of a stop sign. Some residents said Sunday’s barrage seemed worse than the storm in July 2016, which killed two people and destroyed local businesses.
“Flooding in Ellicott City rivaling the flooding incident in 2016,” the Howard County fire and rescue department tweeted. “Multiple rescues in progress.”
The department tweeted at about 5:20 p.m. that “water is receding.” They said “hundreds of rescuers” are swarming to the area. Those seeking shelter can go to the Roger Carter Community Center at 3000 Milltowne Drive.
Rescue swimmers from all three shifts are being called in, the department tweeted, with swift water units responding from as far away at Northern Virginia.
“If you are trapped,” they posted, “we are coming.”
Some people stuck on the second floor deck of Phoenix Emporium watched the swift waters rush past trucks and Jeeps left in the road. Portalli’s Italian Restaurant employee Arianna Wilgar said the water had reached the establishment’s second floor. It was not that high last time, she said.
That July 2016 storm was considered to be a “one-in-1,000 year event,” and cost the city tens of millions of dollars in damages and lost business.
At a recent press conference, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced that 96 percent of the businesses are back and more than 20 new ones have opened in the Main Street area. Now many of them will be forced to recover and rebuild once again.
A little more than two weeks ago, Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state and county were awarded more than $1 million by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund projects aimed at reducing the flood risk in the areas surrounding Main Street. At the time, he called it an “important step in the rebirth of downtown Ellicott City.”
After much of the water receded, some Ellicott City residents stood on Maryland Avenue with raincoats and umbrellas, watching their town flood yet again.
Heavy rain also drenched much of the state Sunday, spurring flash flood warnings and shutting down roads across the Baltimore region.
“If you don’t have to be outside, you shouldn’t be,” said Baltimore County fire department spokeswoman Elise Armacost. “You’re much safer indoors.”
Armacost said the department is fielding dozens of weather-related emergency calls, with most of the activity is the Dundalk area. Cars are getting stuck in high water and basements are flooding, she said, though no injuries have been reported so far.
“We’ve got storm warnings all across the county right now,” she said.
A tornado warning in Baltimore County ended at 4 p.m., though the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Baltimore and its surrounding counties until 2 a.m. Monday — Memorial Day.
“Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation,” the service warns.
Among the areas specifically in danger of flooding: Baltimore, Sparrows Point, Dundalk, Towson and Catonsville, among others. In Catonsville, the high waters shut down Frederick Road.
Gov. Larry Hogan echoed emergency officials in asking people to stay home and avoid roadways.
“If your area is under a flash flood warning, take precautions and seek higher ground,” Hogan tweeted.
Heavy rains in Baltimore area have caused flooding and challenging driving conditions.