I think the best thing I can do tonight is to try to serve others by providing information and while also offering a bit of opinion, keep my opinions forward-thinking. So here goes.
This was posted by County Councilman Jon Weinstein earlier on Facebook:
So many people offering to help and the details are still being worked out. Here's an overview of what we know so far...
- The Red Cross will be accepting donations for residents impacted by the flood. (Stay tuned for details)
- The Ellicott City Partnership will be receiving donations for historic district businesses (www.HelpEllicottCity.com)
- The Community Action Council will be accepting food donations at the Howard County Food Bank (https://www.cac-hc.org/)
- The County Rec & Parks will be coordinating volunteers (see earlier post)
The biggest help is to STAY AWAY from the historic district to allow emergency crews to work. The HCPD and Maryland State Police have announced that no one not working on the recovery effort are not permitted in town until further notice. Please be patient while they confirm it's safe and can implement a process for residents, business owners, and property owners to inspect their losses. To be clear, just because you may physically be able to access Main Street does not mean you should. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.
I'm going to add a little bit to Jon's last bit of advice. Unless you live or have to go to work there, please don't go to Main Street Ellicott City. Listen to the local and state authorities and follow their advice. There is a lot of damage and wreckage and not very safe. If you have to ask if it's OK for you to go there, chances are it isn't.
Earlier this morning on Facebook, while the extent of the flood damage was still not very well known, I wondered about how such an event could have been prevented. And I promised to learn about floods and how they work.
Well, I am doing that, and I've learned that last night's flood happened not just because of last night's rainfall, but of rainfall a couple days ago. The ground became supersaturated and the water could not go anywhere else, so it did what it did.
My question was one of science and technology as well as one of policy. Not politics. Although, I understand that flooding in downtown Ellicott City becomes a political issue sometimes. And, to respond to one of my Facebook correspondents, if there was inaction that was a contributing cause to this event (and data is mounting supporting the extraordinary nature of this event), then the inaction is to be shared.
Here's a random musing: Are there such things as flood alarms? Is there anyplace in the nation, or world, that has a flood alarm system? I don't know, but maybe if the local weather conditions were conducive to the flooding, maybe Ellicott City could have a flood alarm of some sort.
Because what I know is this. This became an event with loss of life as well as extensive loss of property today. My heart goes out to the families of the two people lost. Chances are they were just out on a Saturday night in downtown EC having fun. I've done that myself many a time. I think we as a community have a responsibility to make sure Ellicott City remains safe. And a good place for business!
I know Ellicott City will rebuild, despite the tens-- maybe hundreds?-- of millions of dollars of property losses. The rebuilding presents an opportunity. It presents an opportunity for growth and development in Ellicott City and Howard County. I find at this moment that it's not the best idea for me to speculate as to what that redevelopment should be. Just that the rebuild should-- must-- happen.
But I have sadness that some business owners, and some residents, will be unable and/or unwilling to continue to live or conduct business in Ellicott City. Despite what some may think, very few small businessowners are wealthy. It's a damn shame that some peoples' dreams of having their own business died Saturday night.
It's reasonable to assume that state and private entities-- maybe Federal?--will bring resources to bear in the rebuild. But that also, precious local resources will be used too. That might mean the pie is smaller for other projects, and if that's indeed the case, I'm not bemoaning that. Simply raising the possibility.
This event can be used to instruct us all who tenuous and precious the holds each of us have on life and on all the things we hold dear to us, really are. As the sun fell last evening, no one thought Ellicott City would wind up being severely damaged and partially destroyed. And yet it was. It was a natural disaster, or, if one were to look at this through a filter of less than 15 years old, an act of terrorism perpetrated by nature.
Whatever you want to call it, however you want to categorize it, the lives of all of us in Howard County, and surrounding communities to Ellicott City, changed. It's now our job to be brave, courageous and prudent in making good choice as to how to respond to that change.
I am going to work my butt off to help bring Ellicott City back. I hope each of you reading this commit to help too.
And fingers crossed that any rain tonight doesn't cause more damage.
Let's be careful out there.
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