Ellicott City Flood: What Was the Actual Cause?

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Ellicott City Flood: What Was the Actual Cause?

Maddie Clarke, Staff

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Many who grew up in Catonsville know of historic Ellicott City. The flood of 2016 had already devastated business owners, and now they are fed up with the damages and may not return. Is the new housing to blame? 

There are many listings for new homes online, some being built on historic Ellicott City hills next to houses that have been there for 100+ years. Some houses in Ellicott City are up to $1,000,000. Some are apartment complexes and 4-bedroom and 4-bathroom houses.  

Little attention has been paid to this new construction which went underway not even a few months after the reconstruction of the 2016 flood. Now, many are blaming the construction for the flood that ran through the streets of Old Ellicott City in 2018.  

“My sister has a business down there, and she had just finished readjusting from last year’s flood; she is devastated and has basically lost everything,” explained junior Luke Sattler. 

In 2016, a man named Brian Kelm shined light on the issue at hand when the first flood took place with a Facebook post and even an article on Envision Fredrick County (a non-profit website centered around voicing the community). 

“In 2011, we received heavy rainfall from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, and right after two new houses were built in my neighbors back yard, I had to cut a(n) emergency hole in the floor with a pick axe through a foot of water to pump it out with a submersible pump. There is a connection,” explains Kelm, a frustrated Ellicott City resident. 

Kelm provides visuals of the over-developed area (see featured images) in old Ellicott City and even petitioning by Howard County for new developments. There are blocked water channels, new sewage systems that lead directly to Main Street and repairs needed on the walls surrounding rivers and streams, yet the development continues.  

“One thing they can do in the future is fix the issue with the flooding rather than adding onto it,” explains junior Emma Meacham.  

Now, after this new tragedy, Howard County is making changes to how they handled the situation before and more flood prevention projects are going underway but they will be very costly in addition to the existing damage.