By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
For the second time in two years, the small town of Ellicott City, Maryland, was struck by serious flash floods following a torrential rainstorm last week. The flooding killed a National Guardsman, Eddison Hermand, who was swept away when he attempted to help a woman caught in the rushing water.
The torrential rain caused the nearby Patapsco River to rise about 17.8 feet in less than two hours. That set an all-time record at that location, nearly destroying a once-charming town center with small shops and restaurants.
Roads were torn up and cars were swept away. One dramatic photograph showed two cars upended with their bumpers touching the ground, looking like circus elephants performing a trick.
If any photo tells the story of just how devastating the #EllicottCityFlood was, it’s this. Nothing is holding these cars up.
— Drew (@DrewMacFarlane) May 29, 2018
In addition, many shopkeepers lost their stores and inventory when raging water swept through the center of town. Shopkeepers who only recently re-opened for business following the 2016 flood now faced the same daunting task again. The devastation requires an extensive recovery effort on the part of Maryland’s Office of Emergency Management.
Communication in Situations Like Elliott City Is Vital to Emergency Management
Communication is an important function of emergency management because it keeps the public abreast of new developments and helps prevent panicking. Communication is crucial as an Emergency Support Function and plays a major role in the Incident Command System.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the Office of Emergency Management have been diligent in informing the public about the damage. They have also explained what individuals should do to recover their property, particularly if their vehicles were lost in the flooding.
Inspections Needed to Ensure Flood-Damaged Ellicott City Buildings Are Safe
In the coming weeks, engineers will need to carefully inspect all Ellicott City buildings directly affected by the flooding. Some buildings may require structural repairs to their foundations; other buildings may have to be condemned. Mold remediation specialists will also evaluate the buildings to make sure they are free from toxic mold.
Mitigation Efforts for Future Floods
As emergency managers and other specialists evaluate Ellicott City’s losses, they will also need to think of ways to mitigate similar dangerous flooding in the future.
While such a devastating flood is said to occur just once in a thousand years, this was Ellicott City’s second “flood of a millennium” in two years. Maryland emergency managers and Governor Hogan need to come up with a plan to mitigate the damage that a future disastrous flood would have on the area.
They must also determine how much the appropriate mitigation efforts will cost. With so many local budgets already tight, this issue is a serious one for Ellicott City’s elected officials to consider.
It will take considerable time for Ellicott City to recover. Cleanup and rebuilding will require substantial effort by the Office of Emergency Management, the governor, numerous non-profit organizations, volunteers and residents.