After 2nd Major Flood in 2 Years, Maryland City Ponders Whether to Rebuild Again

by | May 29, 2018 AT 9:40 AM

By Kevin Rector and Pamela Wood

Residents, merchants and officials in Ellicott City on Monday began to examine the devastation wrought by floods that coursed through the historic mill town the night before _ the second time in less than two years.

Old Ellicott City's Main Street remained blocked off Monday, as crews walked up and down the street inspecting buildings. Police were looking for a man who was reported missing during the flooding Sunday. Cars were planted upside down and on their sides in streams and along the road, and a crane tow truck was brought in to lift them out. Utility workers began to restore power, fix a broken water line and bypass a broken sewer pipe.

Many quickly began to ask the question: Should we rebuild again?

At Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant, owner Michel Tersiguel knew immediately that he would repair and reopen his restaurant, a longtime destination restaurant for special occasions and French class field trips. He was on the phone with a contractor Sunday night.

"Time to rebuild, that's it," Tersiguel said. "It's no question for us. We rebuilt the building last time, so that helped. ... Our plan is to get it as soon as the county lets us in."

Nathan Sowers, owner of River House Pizza Co., isn't sure if he will reopen.

"It's an eight-month season. The sun shines, you make hay. Now is when you need to be doing it," he said, noting that the tourism season is just beginning. "We just have to see if the numbers work."

Sowers said part of the calculation for business owners will come down to how quickly the county can fix infrastructure and reopen access to the historic district.

"You can get up and get going, but you need people to be able to get in," he said.

After the similarly devastating flooding in 2016, Main Street was closed to traffic for about 2 { months.

Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner said Main Street would remain off-limits until officials could set up a credentialing program to allow residents and merchants into buildings once it's deemed safe to do so.

Sunday night's storms dropped several inches of rain, sending the Hudson and Tiber tributaries over their banks as the water rushed toward the Patapsco River. Emergency crews responded to 1,100 calls to 911 in the county and about 300 water rescues. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a statewide state of emergency.

Residents, workers and visitors scrambled to safety during the flood. But rescue crews continued to look for one man, Eddison Hermond of Severn, who went under the water while looking for a woman's lost cat and never resurfaced. He was last seen at 5:20 p.m. Sunday, Howard County police said.

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