Community Resilience and a Second Thousand-Year Flood

The story of recovery and resilience of Ellicott City, Maryland, cannot yet be told.

By Ellen Foreman | May 29, 2018 | ARTICLE
flood ravaged Ellicott city Maryland
Historic Ellicott City, Maryland. Howard County Government Photo

One of the popular activities at the ICMA Annual Conference are the field demonstrations.  Field demonstrations take members out of the local convention center and introduce them to projects underway in the host region. For the conference in Baltimore, ICMA had opted to feature Ellicott City and its story of recovery from a one in a thousand-year rainstorm that occurred in 2016. 

The storm dropped 6 inches of water in a two-hour period. The rain gathered in the upstream watershed and brought a 6-foot wall of water rushing through the steep city streets and alleyways. Hundreds of cars were swept away, nearly 200 residents were displaced, dozens of buildings were damaged, and two people died. Working in collaboration with the Howard County Economic Development Authority, a year after the flood, 98 of the 104 flooded businesses had reopened their doors – a 94 percent reopening rate.

Over this past Memorial Day weekend, however, Ellicott City experienced its second one in a thousand-year storm creating a flash flood that did even more damage than the 2016 flash flood. ICMA will be following the progress of Ellicott City and Howard County as community leaders and residents begin the rebuilding process again. We will keep you informed of their progress and share photos of the recovering efforts underway and, as always, ask that you keep the residents and local government staff in your thoughts as they continue the challenging work of recovery and restoration.

For now, ICMA will not be accepting registrations for the field demonstration titled Historic Ellicott City Flood:  A Story of Recovery. As we get closer to the conference date, staff will work with officials in Ellicott City and Howard County to determine if they will have the time and resources needed to host a field demonstration.

You can find more images of recovery efforts in Ellicott City from Howard County, Maryland


As an alterntative, for those

As an alterntative, for those of us with post disaster recovery experience and expertise maybe it could be planned that this field demonstration for Ellicott City be changed to an opportunity to offer first hand experience and expertise.  I, for one, would be glad to be a part of such an effort.

What might be a good

What might be a good discussion is one on storm water management and development issues - what works and what does not. In Maryland there had been a hearty debate over what is pegoritively called the "rain-tax," a mandated fee used to fund projects to mitigate the impacts of development through the collection  of rain waters. Ellicott City's "twice in 1000 years" storm impact could be a good case study.


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