Since Ellicott City’s destructive flooding in 2016, work has been underway in Howard County, Maryland, to improve infrastructure so stormwater could better navigate the historic downtown. But according to the county, only 30 percent of that work was done before Sunday’s storms.
“They’re major efforts. Rebuilding a stonewall in a stream is a significant challenge to do that,” said Jim Irvin, director of Howard County’s public works division.
Some of the projects include replacing badly damaged and destroyed stream walls in the area impacted by the last flood. Last month, FEMA approved more than $1 million in funding to help the county expand key culverts and add water retention areas.
“In 22 months, we had done a lot of effort to get moving; it’s just that you can’t get that much done in 22 months,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.
Kittleman said he believes engineering improvements can help better flood mitigation in the city, but added that it is tough when 8 or 9 inches of rain is dropped over such a short period of time.
Some concerns also being raised is increasing development in and around the downtown area and if that could be partly responsible for the floods. Kittleman said discussions on that will take place at a later time.
“We have plenty of time to address those issues,” Kittleman said. “Right now, we’re talking about people’s lives and making sure that people have what they need, the resources they need to handle what they are dealing with right now.”